By Shehan Jeyarajah
“Setters are basically the quarterback of the volleyball team,” junior middle hitter Nicole Bardaji said. “They tell us what to do and they talk to the defense and tell what kind of passes she needs. They have a big impact on the game.”
Sophomore setter Amy Rosenbaum has been relied on this season to be the starting setter for the first time in her collegiate career, and she has delivered big results. In Big 12 play, Rosenbaum is third in the conference with 10.82 assists per set and second among underclassmen.
“It’s a new role for me,” Rosenbaum said of her performance. “Last year, I was really relied on to encourage people. I was on the team, but I wasn’t really relied on to be a leader. Now I have to adjust to being the lead person. It’s a challenge I love because I know I can do it. I think I’ve played well.”
Rosenbaum played in four matches in 2012, but only major minutes in two. This season, she has been thrust into a starting role and has started at setter in all of Baylor’s 21 matches this season. She is one of only three players on the team to have played in every Baylor set this season.
“Moving to being a starting setter is a lot about confidence,” Rosenbaum said. “It’s not really about how to set the ball. It’s about how to run the offense and learning what each hitter needs. I’m not going to say it’s easy, but it makes it easier that I love my teammates.”
Rosenbaum’s teammates have loved her right back.
“My relationship with Amy is great; we’re teammates, roommates and best friends,” sophomore middle hitter Adrien Richburg said. “I think our relationship off the court helps. We have a good connection.”
Bardaji was quick to compliment Rosenbaum on her performance for Baylor.
“Every setter has a different type of play and different styles,” Bardaji said. “Our old setter, Kate Harris, was really, really quick with her sets. Amy’s are a little slower which I love. She is very mischievous as a setter. When it comes to who she’s going to set, she really tricks the blockers on the other side. She forces me to always be ready because I never know if she’s going to set me which is awesome.”
Rosenbaum has set a variety of career-highs this season for Baylor. Against UT-San Antonio, Rosenbaum played the best match of her collegiate career. She finished with a career-high 50 kills and 19 digs in her first career double-double. She added another double-double on Oct. 9 against West Virginia with 35 assists and 12 digs.
This season has been a rough one for Baylor volleyball. In the second match of the season, the Bears lost freshman phenom outside hitter Katie Staiger to a season- ending knee injury. The Bears have fallen to 9-12 on the season and 1-4 in the Big 12. Despite the trouble, it has been essential in building for the future.
“Young players like Rosenbaum have had to step up on this team,” head volleyball coach Jim Barnes said. “She has a big role as a setter and has had to learn how to play the position right on the court. She is a tremendously talented setter.”
Baylor has three sophomores who have started 14 or more matches this season: outside hitters Thea Munch-Soegaard and Laura Jones and middle hitter Adrien Richburg. Those three will have a chance to grow together with Rosenbaum.
“We have a young group that’s constantly improving,” Barnes said. “We have two girls who aren’t even playing right now, freshman Staiger and sophomore Andie Malloy, who are two of the best outside hitters in the country. You have to feel really good about our future with Amy leading the way.”
Amy Rosenbaum and Baylor volleyball return at 1 p.m. on Saturday against Oklahoma at the Ferrell Center in Waco.