HILLARY SMITH: Bishop Noll volleyball deserves a cookie for season success

2013-11-03T18:15:00Z 2013-11-04T02:20:06Z HILLARY SMITH: Bishop Noll volleyball deserves a cookie for season successHillary Smith Times Columnist nwitimes.com
November 03, 2013 6:15 pm  • 

Bishop Noll volleyball coach Dave Rodriguez brought several bags of hidden food to practice at the beginning of the season.

He handed them to five of his players. In one was sugar, he asked her to take a taste.

"They said the sugar was too sweet," Rodriguez said.

In another was flour, which you couldn't pay enough for a taste of that. Another had salt, another baking soda, another brown sugar.

Individually, they were OK, though not what any player wanted to devour.

Then he handed a sixth bag.

"Chocolate chip cookies," Rodriguez said. "All of those ingredients make chocolate chip cookies. Those they want."

Bishop Noll is a cookie team. Not that it's soft on the inside, the Warriors have proven it's hard to find the squishy, breakable parts of this team.

Instead, this is a team that doesn't want to be baking soda and flour, it wants to be the full, tasty, ingredient-filled cookie.

That's how the Warriors are headed to Saturday's Class 2A state championship at Ball State, set to play Providence at noon.

On paper, Noll is not a team that should be in this position. Only about half of its players are on club teams in the offseason. In an era of specialization, the Warriors have too many multisport athletes for any one of them to just pick one.

Freshman Brittany Anderson doesn't play club volleyball, she's a softball player, but still is one of two setters that have helped amass 1,100 assists this season.

Backup middle hitter Amber Williams just started volleyball last year.

"She's 6-feet tall, and you can't teach that," Rodriguez said, "and in the last year she's worked so hard to improve her approach, her swing, and if she played club, wow, she could be a beast. But not all of these kids want to do that, and that's OK.

"It's expensive to play club volleyball. It's difficult because we're not a public school where taxes are paying for an education, so to ask parents to come up with another $1,600 to play volleyball, I can't do that."

Instead the Warriors remember that they are cookies. The seven club players on the 13-member varsity roster are the salt that helps emphasize the taste of the other non-club athletes. When one needs help picking up a dig or grabbing a block or making a set, that's why the others are there.

Success continues to breed success, and there are two seniors — Asya Hobbs and Elena Sobilo — on the Warriors team that are headed onto the basketball court after the volleyball season ends. That should mean that the conference title and conference tourney title from the hoops season last year are only the appetizer for what Noll hopes to have in store this year.

"I want the kids to be well-rounded," Rodriguez said. "I'm a club coach because I love what I do, but I was a three-sport athlete so I understand the desire to continue to play sports for your school."

Now that Rodriguez's team expects cookies after every win, there will be ovens blazing before Saturday's trip to Muncie.

This column solely represents the writer's opinion. Reach her at hillary.smith@nwi.com.

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