When Morgan Lang was in middle school, she would wait patiently on the North Newton football sidelines, waiting for a referee to toss her the ball.
Not many did, and she told her parents it was because she was a girl.
So she occupied her time practicing her favorite sport: Volleyball. She'd sit on the sidelines, setting herself a football, making sure her hands were perfect and her sets were clean.
"If you can set a football, you can set almost anything, because that's not an easy ball to keep under control," said Kristine Lang, Morgan's mother and the Spartans' volleyball coach.
As a sophomore, Morgan Lang is in her second season of setting the North Newton hitters, not an easy task either. Last season, she set a school record for assists with 546 when she had a stable of hitters on her front line.
This season, after a gaggle of graduations, she's setting a familiar group of hitters with whom she has played club ball, making it easy for her to know precisely where each wants the ball.
The Spartans, in return, have set themselves in a position to finish tied for the Greater South Shore Conference title, with wins over Wheeler and Marquette. They'll need a win over Bishop Noll this week to guarantee their portion of the title.
"I think what helps us the most is that we work really well as a team," Morgan Lang said. "No one is for themselves or their stats. We all want the same thing. It's all about the team."
When Kristine Lang decided to start her daughter as a freshman, she knew there would be discussion outside of the volleyball team that the only reason Morgan was setting was out of nepotism.
"After she set a school record for assists, I don't think anybody debates it anymore," Kristine Lang said. "I knew as my kid that she's a pretty hearty young lady, but it's still a big jump to go from eighth grade to high school volleyball."
Morgan Lang, a three-sport athlete, left club volleyball after her impressive freshman season to continue playing her other two sports. A Dunes Volleyball player from the third grade and through middle school, Lang also plays softball and basketball, spending time in the summer focusing on those sports, too.
She hopes to attend Purdue and become a traveling veterinarian and has to find time to ride her horses in 4-H during the summer as well.
In the meantime, her athleticism is helping to propel her as a setter on the volleyball court.
"I think having pretty good hands is part of (my game)," Morgan Lang said. "I also have pretty good eye-hand coordination, which I get from my other sports."
At 5-foot-4 3/4, she's certain she picked the right position, one where she can send a kill to the other side of the court or watch the success of those around her. After this graduating class leaves the school, Morgan Lang could become a hitter next season.
"I think we will look to use her a little differently next year and she may even get to hit," Kristine Lang said. "She's a nice hitter, but we need her to set. I don't know if God is going to give her more inches or if we need to give her more block jumps to do, but right now she knows how to control the ball and she can always get more precise with it. All of the tools are there, now if she can perfect it, it makes our game and our team that much better."