As of Wednesday, November 15, 2017
DALLAS — Among the words used to describe Emma Classen, loud isn’t one you’re likely to hear often.
But among Dallas’ volleyball team, Classen’s actions spoke louder than any word ever could.
The junior setter is talented, earning first team all-Mid-Willamette Conference honors, and leading the team in serving percentage and aces, but her impact goes beyond the court.
“Emma was the glue that kept the team together,” coach Shana Lavier said. “She was the leader of the offense. She made others want to play better. She was the first one in the gym and usually the last one to leave. She’s the first one to offer to put equipment away and one of the last ones on the bus to make sure all the garbage was picked up. She has evolved into a quiet leader. She isn’t as loud or vocal as some setters, but the girls have the utmost respect for her as a teammate and a person.”
That’s what makes her the Itemizer-Observer’s Volleyball Player of the Year.
There was always something about volleyball that attracted Classen.
“One of my favorite things is it’s not just about one person,” Classen said. “It has to be the entire team. I think the sport is 90 percent mental. You have to learn how to move past your mistakes quickly.”
There are few players more qualified to know the team aspect than Classen.
As a setter, she’s responsible for deciding which player to pass to, or to tip the ball over herself, all in the span of a few seconds.
“It’s definitely a lot of work,” Classen said. “Each hitter and player is different. You learn how to talk to each person, how each person responds. It depends on the day and the game. Sometimes one person is playing better than the other, and you give them the ball more than the other person.”
But that hard work resulted in a smooth-flowing offense that Classen played a major role in running.
Classen has also had a secret weapon, something that has given her an advantage over her peers.
“I’m left-handed,” she said. “Left-handers are more ideal for setting, because you can dump the ball over with your left hand. Since most setters are right-handed, they have to learn how to do that.”
Just as important as her chemistry with her teammates was the evolution into someone who could affect the game from all parts of the court.
“She developed into an offensive threat for the team,” Lavier said. “She’s extremely versatile on the right side and got a lot of kills for us. Her serving was extremely tough and kept a lot of teams off balance.”
Her development on the court has affected Classen in some fundamental ways.
“I’ve seen my leadership skills improve,” Classen said. “Coming into high school, I was more of a leader by example. Volleyball helped force me to be more vocal. That’s helped me a lot.”
This year’s run to the quarterfinals marks a moment Classen won’t soon forget.
“It’s been really fun to make state,” Classen said. “I’ve been grateful to be a part of it.”
Part of her true value is that Classen helped inspire the performances necessary to advance out of her teammates.
“She is humble and kind and is just such a great human,” Lavier said. “She works her tail off on the court and in the classroom. She is just one of those kids that others want to be around.”