ST. JOHN | When Lake Central's volleyball team opted to take a 5-2 offensive approach, the two in that equation had to be in synch.
Enter Nikki Garza and Lauren DiNino, a pair of senior setters who have helped the Indians find their groove this season.
Combined with back-row passes that are pristine, and young middle hitters who are jumping well beyond their range, Lake Central is sitting on an 11-3 record with two tournaments and the first week of the conference schedule out of the way.
"I often tell them, look around and thank the person around you and the person ahead of you who delivered the ball," Indians coach Tina Tinberg said. "It's how you adapt and better the circumstances. It's about bettering the ball and if you don't have something great, make lemonade out of lemons."
In volleyball, the setter is the quarterback of the court. In this case, think of the Indians as Morton football, finding that two setters is better than one.
"We work good together," Garza said. "We help each other out a lot about what we need to do to get better."
"We're constantly partners (in drills)," DiNino said. "We get the same criticisms, so we know what we have to work on and we work together on how to fix it."
They're relatively close statistically, with Garza's 174 assists slightly more than DiNino's 153 thanks to a starting role. DiNino has set herself up as the Indians' best server with 44 aces in the first three weeks of the season.
"Because they're so close in talent and so well-balanced, normally the second setter in the fourth rotation on some teams might be the weaker of the two," Tinberg said. "That's not the case here. That takes some teams off guard."
Tinberg said that the "click" of this year's team is the elimination of the "cliques." Five seniors have set the tone with a leadership style that fosters togetherness.
"It starts with my leadership and experience with the seniors," Tinberg said. "It's five really great personable kids that are strong players as well. There's a great amount of respect and appreciation on this team. It's very high-level players playing amongst each other and they just really appreciate each other."
Both setters say that makes their job much easier.
"On any team, it can't be one or two people that control everything, every one has to do their part," DiNino said.
"That's what makes this work so well," Garza said. "We all put in the same amount of effort."