Most outside hitters who possess the power and accuracy of Emily Lyneis stand at or above 6-feet tall, which allows them to rise above the net and the outstretched arms of the defense for a kill shot.
At 5-foot-9, the Silver Creek senior doesn’t need those extra inches to be just as dangerous offensively. Instead, she employs a mix of sky-high hops, timing and intelligence to rain down spike after spike and sap the energy from the opposition.
And with every kill from Lyneis comes an outburst of emotion that seems to fuel the Raptors, a volleyball team with high expectations this season.
“She brings a lot of intensity to the court,” Silver Creek middle blocker Kayla Marchus said. “Her energy carries over to the whole team, and it’s really hard to play without her.”
Aside from natural athleticism, Lyneis has developed into a top-flight outside hitter through the usual steps — hard work, practice and repetition after repetition.
And, after moving to the area from California more than two years ago, she started to expand her understanding of the chemistry between a hitter and the setter, a role she increasingly has stepped into, allowing her to see what needs to be done at both positions.
“It helps my hitting because you know when and how the ball is going to come out of the setter’s hands,” she said. “And as a setter, you are looking for an outside hitter who can keep the ball in play when you don’t have a good pass and put it away when you do.
“An ideal set is to push the ball all the way out to the antennae up high, and the ideal setter will communicate and tell you what needs to be hit.”
It’s a relationship that requires an unspoken connection and the ability to adjust at the last moment.
While Lyneis can step in and help the team on defense or as a setter, she remains the Raptors’ offensive catalyst and go-to hitter. She benefits by having McKensy Monier also on the outside, which forces the opposition to spread its defensive focus along the net rather than zeroing in on Lyneis.
Following the best season in school history, in which Silver Creek picked up its first-ever victory over a big city rival and notched the first winning season, most of that team returns intact. Coach Nicholle Chambers does not plan to ease up this time around.
“There is always stuff to work on. I don’t want anybody to be too comfortable,” she said. “You never want to step into a season with a feeling of ease.”
Much of the Raptors’ lineup has been playing together for a few years, so they are familiar with each other and know what to expect when out on the court. After getting a taste of success as juniors, the current crop of seniors intends to move forward during their final season.
“We want to go out with a bang,” said Lyneis, who currently is talking to college coaches and remains undecided about where she will go after graduation. “We want to have a good season and make some more history for the school’s volleyball program.”
Brady Delander can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.