Abby Grove has a certain confidence on the volleyball court. The Dickinson High senior’s poise has been built through both steady and sudden improvements. In Grove’s case, confidence is a new development — and it’s one she and the Midgets have used to their advantage this season.
“I just expect to do well and I want to do good, no matter what,” Grove said. “I figured this year might be a good year for me.”
The 5-foot-10 outside hitter, who was only inserted into the Midgets’ varsity rotation as a contributor halfway through her junior season, is at the top of her game.
Grove has a team-high 357 kills, an average of 11.2 per match and more than double any of her teammates. Senior Ali Moody is second on the team with 175 kills.
Using a powerful and directional spike on her attacks, Grove has accumulated a .308 hitting percentage while also playing well defensively. She is third on her team in digs (232) and aces (40) and has 21 total blocks.
“Offensively, she does a lot of things for us,” Dickinson head coach Jay Schobinger said. “She’s the go-to player. Other teams key on her.
“We told her, you’ve got to get used to the fact that you’re going to have two blockers on you every single time you touch the ball. They’re going to line up to stop her. As a player, when you demand that from your opponent, that says a lot.”
Tonight, Mandan’s eyes will likely be on Grove when the No. 3 seed Midgets (24-9) face the No. 6 seed Braves (12-22) at 6 p.m. in the quarterfinals of the West Region Tournament at Mandan High School gymnasium.
Midway through her junior season, Grove began showing signs she was developing into a power hitter at the net.
So, Schobinger decided to work her into the team’s rotation more frequently.
By the end of the 2011 season, Grove had turned into one of the Midgets’ top attackers.
Grove said that helped her build confidence. She added to it this summer with a daily workout routine, acceleration training and by attending several volleyball camps.
Moody said the difference in Grove’s performance compared to last season is clear.
“She’s really our go-to hitter,” Moody said. “If I don’t know where to set it during a game, I go to Abby. This year, she’s like, ‘Bam!’ It’s just like she’s a whole new person, it’s weird.”
Grove said she could see her practice beginning to pay off, feeling faster, jumping higher and hitting the ball harder.
Now, she is relishing in being the player the Midgets look to when they’re in need an offensive spark.
“I like being that person they can turn to and know that they can expect me to get a kill, or expect me to do well,” Grove said with a smile.
Despite battling illness and injury — she is recovering from both strep throat and tendonitis in her left ankle — Grove is excited about the postseason and the Midgets’ chances.
Schobinger said with a player like Grove working on the outside, Dickinson stands a chance to contend for the West Region championship that has eluded them since 2005. The Midgets have lost in the past two region title matches.
“Other coaches will argue with me, but I think she’s the best offensive player in our conference,” Schobinger said.