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Volleyball: Defensive specialist Strigle backbone of Falcons

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TURIN — Jayne Strigle is developing into an expert on defense.

The South Lewis senior became her volleyball team’s libero, or defense specialist, during her sophomore year. Although she is capable of playing any position, she has become the backbone of the team at defense.

“I am so comfortable there,” Strigle said. “I feel like that’s where I belong, that’s where I can excel more than any other spot.”

Strigle, in her fourth year on varsity, holds five school records, including 722 career digs, 360 digs in a season, 52 digs in a match, 16 digs in a game and 23 service points in a match. She has also totaled for her career 331 service points, 111 aces, 96 assists and 31 kills.

“Obviously she brings a huge element of skill to the team, but there’s also a huge factor of comfort knowing she’s on the court,” South Lewis coach Ashley Gino said. “The girls rely on her.”

Strigle is developing an acute awareness of where an opponent is going to place the ball. She is now embarrassed to watch game footage from previous years and see how she misjudged an opponent’s ball placement.

“On defense that’s a big thing,” Strigle said. “We do a lot of trying to read a hitter, where they’re going to hit the ball.”

She attended a high-performance camp last summer where she learned how to do just that. The tips she learned clicked with her and helped her improve her defensive skills immensely.

When she began serving for the first time, Strigle set a school single-match mark.

That was just one of the “firsts” Strigle has achieved. She also helped her team beat Beaver River for the first time in school history last season. The Falcons last year also earned their first Frontier League banner for volleyball when they captured the “C” Division tournament title.

Strigle has her sights set on a few more initial accomplishments. The Falcons haven’t beaten South Jefferson during her years on the team, and they’ve also never won a sectional crown.

Strigle loves snow days as much as everybody else, but the numerous school closings this winter have meant less time on the volleyball court.

South Lewis has an opportunity to again claim the “C” Division championship, but the Falcons have only five practice days remaining to prepare for nine regular-season matches. They have already had to reschedule three matches and have lost two practices due to poor weather conditions.

“That’s very frustrating because then you play back-to-back games where you don’t have a practice before a game,” Strigle said. “I think sometimes we feel a little draggy if we don’t have practice.”

South Lewis (6-1 overall, 5-1 league), who has only lost to Beaver River, countered that problem by holding an hour-long practice before leaving for their match at Sandy Creek on Jan. 3. The result was a South Lewis victory, in three games, over previously-undefeated Sandy Creek (5-1).

“That was an amazing feeling because everyone didn’t expect it from us,” Strigle said.

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