FORT WAYNE – You can’t miss Andrew Sellan.
In a crowd, he’s the one who stands 6-foot-5, and if you miss him that way, just look for the swirl of reddish-blond hair that crowns those 6 feet, 5 inches. Or ask his coach, Arnie Ball, who stops short of calling Sellan the offensive star of his No. 14 IPFW volleyball team but will acknowledge he’s been the Mastodons’ most dangerous weapon of late.
He’s led us in kills the last 3-4 weeks, Ball said this week, as the Mastodons (20-6, 9-5 MIVA) prepared to open MIVA tournament play against Ohio State (11-15, 6-8). And we need that to happen in order to win.
Here’s the weird thing about that: Though he’s a front-and-center pillar for the Mastodons, Sellan’s also the first to admit that he’ll take a back seat to everyone.
Yeah, I prefer hitting out of the back row, he says.
That’s not an issue of status, mind you, but of tactical advantage. When the rotation moves him to the back row, the Mastodons’ setter, Omar Rivera, is positioned at the right front.
So it makes it easy to leave a set for Sellan to hammer like a nail as he comes roaring up on the same side.
It’s gotten to a point there where I can jump forward enough where the set locations are just in the right spot, Sellan says. It’s actually kind of funny, I’m doing a lot better hitting out of the back row. I get better court vision.
That’s not all there is to it, of course.
Both Sellan and Ball say improved middle play has opened things up for Sellan and outside hitter Eddie Rivera, the Mastodons’ two primary weapons on the attack. The setting and passing have gotten better, too.
Part of the reason for Andy’s success is we have been able to regenerate our middle attack, Ball says. And we’ve been able to do that because our passing has been good, and when that happens it opens us up on the (outside), especially for Andy coming out of the back row on the right side. We’ve utilized that a lot.
And the thing that’s complemented our play the last three weeks has been our serving. We’ve served really well, which has complemented our passing, which has allowed our offense to become balanced.
Still, it’s Sellan, a sophomore out of Westerville, Ohio, who’s leading the way. Coming into tonight’s match, he leads the team in kills with 313. Last weekend, he had 26 as the Mastodons closed out the regular season with a pair of 3-0 sweeps over Quincy and Lindenwood; in two previous matches with the Buckeyes, both five-set IPFW wins, Sellan had 40 kills.
Now comes round three.
I don’t know, says Ball, when asked if the two previous matches give his team an edge. We obviously know each other pretty well. Their approach is not going to change and ours is not going to change either. So I guess it’s just a matter who executes a little bit better in the game plan.
And who has the better back seat driver, perhaps.