Shriane Athlete of the Week
ELIZABETH -- Kaileen Shriane considered the move a foreign and overwhelming experience.
It wasn't a trip to across the ocean, or even moving to another town.
At midseason, the Elizabeth Forward junior switched from weak-side hitter to setter for the Lady Warriors volleyball team.
"I think it was done to try and help the hitters and get them used to the same set," she said of coach Erin Knizner's lineup maneuver. "I'm a lot more comfortable now after a couple decent games and I feel a lot more confident."
Shriane, in fact, has looked right at home lately. She helped guide E-F to a 3-0, mild upset over Fort Cherry Thursday in a Class-AA playoffs pigtail match. Her 25 assists, 12 digs and 11 service points were enough to warrant her The Valley Independent's Athlete of the Week.
"We didn't play our best match against Fort Cherry; I've seen them play better," Knizner said of the match. "That's where Kaileen came in, running the offense with precision to help put a lot of kills down and keeping the girls calm."
The transition was rough at first. At 5-foot-2, Shriane (pronounced "shrine") is built more like a setter, but had played the weak side most of her career.
"I guess it's more of a natural position, but I never expected to set," she said. "They'd practice me at setter here and there and then (Knizner) talked about it one day at practice. The next night, I was in there and it was kind of nerve racking."
Shriane was not only switching from a defense-first to an offense-only position, she was being asked to vault into the spotlight and a leadership role.
"Athletically, she's been all over the court trying to run the offense," Knizner said. "Her intensity as a leader has really improved as well. She's a lot more positive with teammates. They still take mistakes to heart."
Shriane forced herself to change not only her techniques, but personality as well.
"I had to become more of a leader to run the offense, to yell more and work a lot more on setting," Shriane said. "It's hard because you're a sophomore and the next thing you know, as a junior you're running the team. I had to work on not getting down on myself to keep everyone else to stay up. That's something I didn't do well before."
That is sometimes a challenging task, considering there are no seniors in E-F's lineup -- just a rotation of five juniors and two sophomores and one freshman. Now, Shriane has become the glue that holds it all together.
"Sometimes it feels like everything's on you, but I can't let that get to me," Shriane said. "I don't think I'd be where I am now if we had seniors, but (Knizner) made it pretty clear that us five juniors had to take on that leadership role."
Other candidates for Athlete of the Week: