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Athlete of the Week: Raven Klein

October 19, 2016

Raven Klein, a senior setter from Burnsville, Minnesota, had an impressive weekend at the UW-Eau Claire Schumacher invite to give the UW-River Falls volleyball team two important wins.

Klein hit .583 against St. Thomas in the Falcons 3-1 win over the Tommies and added 156 assists, with 41 coming against St. Thomas alone. Klein also had a defensive impact by recording 34 digs and averaged 2.0 digs per set. Klein was named to the Sandy Schumacher All-Tournament Team for her performance.

The Student Voice sat down with Klein to discuss her role as a senior leader on the team and her time as a Falcon as the WIAC playoffs approach.

 Q: What kind of leadership role have you had with this team?

A: I’m the only senior on this team and the position I play is a setter. In general people who set have more of a leadership role because they’re involved in every play, so being one of only two people who returned from playing last year means we have to set a precedent for all of the new girls.

Q: What was the precedent you set for the new players?

A: Hard work will get us where we want to go and we like to lead by example and not just speaking. Just saying you’re going to do something is completely different from getting out there and doing it. Everybody knows we’re a young team because we graduated so many girls but that doesn’t stop us.

Q: What’s tools make up an impactful setter?

A: There’s a lot that goes into setting that a lot of people may not realize. Really good set decisions like being able to see the other team’s blockers and spreading the ball out on the net makes the other team think more. Also trying to get my hitters one on one and being able to keep a composure on the court. That way if things start to go downhill a little bit, people can look at me. I have to keep morale up while playing the game I’m supposed to play.

Q: What led to a strong performance against the Tommies?

A: We stopped thinking about the game and just played, and we always play better like that when we don’t get in our own heads. Against St. Thomas, it was a much faster pace than we’ve been playing so I was glad we were able to keep up. We also played smarter and made shots we needed to, and our defense was really good.

Q: Was the win over St. Thomas a signature win for this team?

A: Going into that tournament we knew we were playing some higher level competition. With St. Thomas, we knew they were a good team and it was our first game of the day but no one had it in their heads we couldn’t win. It was just that battle to prove we’re a good team and it was definitely a momentum changer for us.

Q: What has this team proved as you round out conference play and approach the WIAC tournament?

A: I don’t think a lot of people expected a lot of us this year because it’s such a young team, but I think we’ve proved being connected off the court does help us because this team has done a lot of stuff together outside of practice. That connection goes a really long way but we aren’t just playing for ourselves but for the rest of the team.

Q: What final adjustments need to be made to pull an upset in the playoffs?

A: Attitude is huge so for me. I come into every practice being the most positive person I can be. I try to be really loud on the court because really energetic play tends to spread and can be a big motivator for the rest of the team. We have two weeks left and nothing to lose.

Q: Has the program grown throughout your years here?

A: When I came in, a lot of younger players were starters so I had the same core players for my first three years. It was almost like we were stuck a bit, and everyone thought we were going to have a growing year this year. But we’ve proved we’re still someone to take notice of.

Q: Do you think you’ve left the program at a better place?

A: I’m pretty happy with how I’m going to leave the program because I don’t think I left anything on the table and I’ve shown what the team needs through my actions. They have a lot of space to grow because they’ve started well but they’re nowhere near their potential. That’s exciting, and I think the program will do well in the next two years.

Q: What will you remember the most about your time as a Falcon?

A: The teammates and the experience of playing home matches and everyone coming into the gym. It’s a smaller gym and will be completely different with the Falcon Center next year. Having that home feel and walking into the gym on game day is one of the best feelings I’ve had in these four years. I don’t think there’s ever been a match where I stepped off the court and there wasn’t more I could do. Knowing that is probably the best part about Falcon volleyball.