Girls volleyball

Wheeler's Maas uses state softball experience to provide leadership for volleyball team

2011-10-27T20:00:00Z 2012-11-15T19:50:20Z Wheeler's Maas uses state softball experience to provide leadership for volleyball teamBy Jim Hunsley jim.hunsley@nwi.com, (219) 548-4356 nwitimes.com

Saturday morning's meeting with Class 2A No. 2-ranked Wapahani seems to be quite the daunting task for Wheeler's girls volleyball team.

The Raiders (27-6) ended Muncie Burris' record 95-match postseason winning streak in this year's sectional, and now they enter the Bremen semistate as the probable state championship favorite.

Thanks to players such as senior middle hitter Whitney Maas, the Bearcats (27-10) could enter the semifinal semistate matchup with confidence — not fear.

Maas is the lone athlete from the high school to be a part of team regional crowns in two sports. Maas played second base for Wheeler's state championship team in 2010, a squad that overcame an early 6-1 deficit to defeat Linton-Stockton 8-7.

"She's a gamer for us," Wheeler first-year volleyball coach Alisha Polite said of Maas. "She has the drive and fight in her eyes — that's something hard to teach.

"It's really important to have her here for the postseason. She's the big sister, the role model."

A few weeks ago, Maas shared her experiences about the softball state finals with her volleyball teammates.

"Her stories were very uplifting," Polite said. "She's become the calming factor for our team. She's allowed our team to be more focused."

Maas doesn't just provide leadership to the squad. She also leads by her play on the court. She's third on the team with 162 kills and 45 aces, plus she's fourth on the squad with 218 digs.

She's now back at middle hitter, but she spent time at outside hitter due to injuries at that position. She's also been a strong force in the back row.

"We've incorporated a little jump serve, and she's really picked up things in the back row," Polite said. "She got us through some matches on the outside. She has what it takes to do whatever is asked of her."

On Tuesday, Maas helped the team refocus after losing the opening regional game to Rochester.

"I just kept telling them that it wasn't over," Maas said. "The girls trust me to be the calm in the midst of the chaos.

"This just affects the mental side. We've got some players with great physical skills. I put my trust in them, and they've come through before. The confidence is there; we just have to execute."

Maas has a chance to be the first Wheeler player to have semistate crowns in two sports, and she remains grounded about what she's already achieved.

"I hope other athletes are able to follow in my footsteps," she said. "I want Wheeler to be a successful school, and I hope others can join me on the list."

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