Carlson, Hefling fill in for injured Larson
The Blooming Prairie volleyball team sported a new look in the middle of the frontcourt last week as juniors Haven Carlson and Abby Hefling look to fill the role of injured junior captain Sierra Larson.
Larson, the team’s regular middle hitter and an experienced varsity athlete, broke her finger in a match against Hayfield on Sept. 9.
“She’s probably out most of the season. We’re hoping she’ll come back for the last week, but that’ll be touch and go,” said Blooming Prairie head coach Jennifer Wayne.
The injury causes some mix-ups in the middle as Hefling, an experienced middle blocker, will now be paired with Carlson, who recently stepped away from the position by Wayne’s design.
Going into this season, Wayne moved Carlson to outside hitter - a position that she thought would benefit the team’s offense.
Wayne said she decided to move Carlson because the team already had two strong middles in Larson and Hefling.
Moving Carlson to the outside offered the team a way to keep a solid offensive frontcourt while not having to sit any key players to wait for rotational substitutions.
Wayne said the transition went well for Carlson, who looked like she was growing in the position and becoming comfortable.
Now, Carlson will have to transition back into her old spot, a task that Wayne said is going well.
“I thought she would be excited about it because that’s what she always liked. She seemed a little hesitant at first. I think she was nervous that she was going to kind of forget what she had learned or how to play the middle. But she’s been fine. She’s a good blocker.”
With a long season still ahead, Carlson has plenty of time to get reaccustomed to her role.
“It feels kind of weird because I got used to playing outside during the summer and the beginning of the season. But I like to block so it feels good getting back into it,” said Carlson.
Carlson isn’t the only player affected by the move.
Hefling will now assume a lot of new responsibility in the middle, filling in the hole left by Larson.
“Sierra was probably our best hitter on the team. So I feel like I really need to step up my personal game to fill her shoes. Maybe get more kills, more blocks like she did,” said Hefling.
Carlson and Hefling believe they will complement one another.
Carlson said she feels her strength lies in blocking and Hefling said her biggest strength is her hitting.
As for Larson, there is also a new role for her.
Rehabbing a broken finger, she will be tasked with viewing from the sidelines.
‘In practice, I keep conditioning. I shag balls and sometimes I hit the ball against the wall with my left hand. In games, I like to put my perspective and my opinion into it and kind of just help everybody who needs tips and pointers,” said Larson.
Larson said she hopes to return to action for the team’s last three games of the season.