Penn-Trafford grad Taylor Solo relishes role as primary setter for Cal (Pa.) women's volleyball
The opportunity Taylor Solo awaited finally arrived — and perhaps just in time for the Cal (Pa.) women's volleyball team.
Solo, a Penn-Trafford graduate, has assumed the job of primary setter for the Vulcans after thee seasons playing a supporting role. Perhaps more importantly, as one of only two seniors on the roster, she provides much-needed veteran leadership.
Solo took a winding path to reach this point.
She logged a significant amount of time at setter during the first half of her freshman year, but her playing time decreased as the Vulcans advanced toward a PSAC title. As a sophomore, her time at setter dwindled further. She bounced back with a solid junior season while being used primarily in the back row, posting career bests of 132 digs and 21 aces as her assists hit a career low (32).
But now, Solo is running the Vulcans offense and through 11 matches already has a career-high 430 assists. She also has continued her steady back-row play with 110 digs and eight aces.
“She's been doing a great job, and she's been managing the team well,” coach Peter Letourneau said. “She's always been a very good player. The fact that she's been good this year does not surprise me.”
Solo is happy being the linchpin of the Cal offense, but she insisted her attitude never wavered even has her responsibilities decreased then changed.
“It's always fun to run the offense and be the main setter,” she said. “But I really put my time and effort into any way I could better the team.”
Playing extensively in the back row, she said, helped her become a more well-rounded player. Letourneau concurred, saying Solo's defensive skills have improved, and her service game puts pressure on opposing teams.
Setting, however, remains her forte. Letourneau said Solo has developed a knack for finding the right matchups in order to give her attackers the best chance for a kill.
For a player like sophomore outside hitter Rachel Priore, having Solo as the setter and a team captain has been important.
“She's always asking what she can do to better the set,” said Priore, who ranks second in the PSAC in kills per set (4.00). “She's just a good teammate. ... It seems to me that she can set with every person, and it's a good matchup.”
Solo had a career-best 52-assist match in a 3-2 victory over Winston-Salem State on Sept. 1, adding 14 digs and an ace in the process. She has four other matches of at least 40 assists, and her 31 assists against Roberts Wesleyan helped Cal (6-5) hit .506 in the 3-0 win.
The Vulcans are set to enter the most important part of their season as they begin PSAC play Friday with a crossover match against West Chester. Solo said she believes Cal, despite its youth, can contend in what sets up to be a wide-open conference race.
“I am very optimistic for this year,” she said. “Even though we are young, there's a lot of talent, and we want to play for each other. That's huge in volleyball, to play as a team and not get frustrated with each other.
“I came in with a PSAC championship, and I'd like to leave with one.”