HIGH POINT, N.C. – Experience is the key word for the High Point University volleyball team’s defensive specialist and setter positions.
The Panthers brought in five freshmen for the 2015 season, but all five are middle blockers or outside hitters leaving a group of veterans at the setter and defensive specialists spots.
“We have three seniors that are very good at what they do and are in good positions to be vocal leaders,” head coach Jason Oliver said. “Wavie Chin and Annemarie Chin are both libero/DS’s that you want to have experienced ball-control defensive players.”
“Gabi Mirand, even though she’s only been in the program for a year and a half, has blossomed into someone that everyone looks to for leadership,” Oliver continued. “She’s done a really good job handling her business in the offseason. We have a very mature senior class in three positions that really establish the ball-control mindset and defensive mindset that we’re going to be able to play with any team in the country.”
Defensive Specialist and Libero
Wavie Chin and Annemarie Chin have anchored the Panthers’ defense for the past three seasons. The two have combined for over 2,200 digs and have alternated in the libero role during their three seasons with the Purple & White.
“Our DS/libero is a fun position because we have two seniors that have been around the block and know everything about this school and the game,” Oliver said.
Having two proven veterans to set the tone will be valuable for the team and there is depth and versatility pushing the seniors.
“Amy Pilat is a sophomore who is talented and has great length,” Oliver said. “She has bought into the idea of competition and understands that every touch matters.”
Junior Greta Griswold tied with Wavie Chin for third on the team with 18 service aces last year and brings another stable force for the defense.
“Greta gives us even more experience at this position,” Oliver continued. “There isn’t much we need to say to her about effort, technique or positioning.”
All of the versatility gives Oliver the opportunity to match up with opponents and use situational substitutions.
“When I look at these positions there are a lot of options,” Oliver continued” “We can mix-and-match. It puts me in the position to be able to put each student-athlete in the best situation to succeed.”
Senior Gabi Mirand and sophomore Carly Jimenez are battling through camp to see who will earn the starting role at the setter position.
“We have two setters returning to the program and it has been awesome because they had an unbelievable offseason,” Oliver explained. “In the spring, they put a ton of time into technique work and they are beginning to see the fruits of that hard work come to fruition. It’s a very close race between the two of them to see who will be the starter, but they are both very capable.”
Mirand won that competition last season and went on to post 1,146 assists – the sixth-highest single-season total in HPU’s Division I era. Those assists along with her team-leading 33 service aces played a large role in her selection as honorable mention all-conference and allowed her to establish herself as a team leader.
“Gabi is very mature in her game and is controlled,” Oliver said. “She understands where and when to set the ball and why her defense needs to be done the right way. She gets the idiosyncrasies of the game.”
In spite of playing a limited role, Jimenez made an impact posting 3.13 assists per set in her freshman campaign.
“Carly has a huge heart and is willing to take chances,” Oliver said. “She is going to force the defense to make good decisions and still execute at a very high level.”
The coaching staff is excited to watch this competition early in the season and hopes it pushes both players to be at their best.
“It’s going to be fun over the last couple weeks of preseason and the first couple weeks or the season to see how playing time settles,” Oliver continued. “It’s always great for a program when you have two experienced and talented setters.”