Thursday, September 2, 2010

from today's Waukesha Freeman --

She’s set at libero

It didn’t take long for CMH volleyball coaches to find right spot for Abshire
By Daniel Mike Freeman Staff

WAUKESHA – Patti Abshire discovered pretty early that she wasn’t a setter. The Catholic Memorial High School senior volleyball player was only weeks into her high school volleyball career. “It was the Pius match, and we were playing at Memorial,” Abshire said. “The first game, I was so nervous, and all the pressure had gotten to me so badly. I was ruining it. I couldn’t set to save my life that game.”

Abshire has begun her fourth season as the Crusaders’ libero. “She just got overwhelmed with the situation and we had to take her out,” CMH coach Ted Schulte said. “Halfway during the match, my assistant coach turned to me and said, ‘Let’s have Patti play libero.’ “Patti goes in there and has been rock solid ever since.”

Being reentered into the match as libero helped Abshire recompose herself. “They called a timeout and everybody was trying to settle me down,” Abshire recalled. I said, ‘I don’t want to set anymore. I don’t want to do it.’ “Later in that match, they said, ‘Let’s put her in as a libero,’ and that worked out.” Saying it “worked out” might be an understatement. The most recent moment in which it “worked out” was her being named first-team all-state after helping CMH to the WIAA Division 2 state title last season.

“I think I am more comfortable doing (libero) because it’s what I had always been,” Abshire said. “Passing and defense is something I am always able to fall back on. It’s comfortable for me.” Volleyball has long been a part of Abshire’s life. Her grandparents, John and Marilyn Lynch, ran sports locations with volleyball courts and still play and coach at times. Abshire’s mother, Jane, still plays, coaches club volleyball and helps coach the boys team at Memorial. Abshire’s two older sisters coach high school volleyball, and her brother runs leagues at Center Court Sports Complex.

“For a while, both of my sisters played club so I was always at their tournaments,” Abshire said. “Otherwise, I’d be at my grandparents’ facilities. I started playing club in third grade. “It being a family thing, (volleyball) gave us a bond.” She went to middle school in New Berlin, but decided Catholic Memorial might be the right fit for high school – and not entirely because of volleyball.

“My mom had been coaching the boys freshman team there,” Abshire said. “She would say, ‘Maybe you should think of us sending you to Memorial.’ I shrugged it off and would think it was so far away. “Eighth grade came, and I thought I might want to go to Memorial. I liked the idea of going to a place where everybody shared the same values. It felt like there was more of a purpose – and there was a great volleyball program.”

It was a surprising move for Schulte, who heads the Milwaukee Sting Volleyball Club for which Abshire played. “I walk into the first day of freshman tryouts and there she was,” he said. “She really wasn’t on my radar as someone who would potentially come to Memorial. All of a sudden she was there.”

She has become an integral part of the team, helping the Crusaders to a sectional final her freshman year, a state runner-up finish as a sophomore and the Division 2 state title as a junior.
“She makes it look so effortless in some respects,” Schulte said. “The glory positions are the hitter and the setter. The person down in the trenches doing the dirty work is libero. She’s the primary passer and really anchors the serve receive. “She has great floor leadership. She’s the most vocal person on the floor. She’s constantly keeping track of what people are doing and moving people around so they’re in proper alignment. She brings a lot of positive, take-charge energy to the floor.”


Photos -- Both Freeman file photos

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