Dynamic duo

SHS volleyball players use their skill sets to play off each other

Juniors Vanessa Miller (left) and Lauren Cullison (right).

Kelsey Jones

Juniors Vanessa Miller (left) and Lauren Cullison (right).

Playing against Seymour High School at a girls volleyball match on Sept. 3, the Lady Cards scored a point in the beginning of the second set that was a little more than just a point on the scoreboard for SHS. A set from junior Vanessa Miller led to a kill from junior Lauren Cullison, marking Miller’s 1000th career assist.

This Miller-Cullison combo is one that the Lady Cards are used to. Miller is the setter on the team and, according to head coach Chelsea Hoffman, this is like the quarterback of the team. Hoffman says that some of Miller’s strengths, aside from her setting abilities, is her competitiveness and will to win. The setter is responsible for running the plays and setting up scoring opportunities for the offense, which mostly revolves around Cullison, the team’s 6-foot-1-inch outside hitter.

Cullison is responsible for attacking the ball and blocking at the left front position on the court. The hitters receive the ball from the setter and attempt to score from there. Hoffman says that Cullison has become a much smarter hitter this season and processes unteachable strength when hitting the ball.

“You can’t teach a kid how to hit a ball hard,” Hoffman said. “I can tell them where to place the ball, but I can’t necessarily teach them how to hit the ball hard.”

Cullison currently leads the Lady Cards with 311 kills, while Miller leads the team in assists with 535. Miller says Cullison is a player she relies on while on
the court.

“She’s one of the main hitters I go to when we need a point or a kill,” Miller said.
Both are leaders of the team in their positions and have the stat sheets packed, but Cullison is approaching a new level.

Cullison has the opportunity to play volleyball collegiately, as she verbally committed to play at the University of Indianapolis on Sept. 14. She has also tied the school record for most kills in a game with 26. Cullison has 311 kills so far this season, and is approaching the school record for most kills in a season, which is 399. This record was set by Hoffman in 2010 when she was attending SHS. According to Cullison, this is very exciting, but it does put a lot of pressure on her. She credits her teammates as an aid for the success she has earned.

“I represent more for myself now, and I have more to prove,” Cullison said.

According to Hoffman, since Cullison and Miller have played with each other for multiple years, they have had time to develop a connection.

Because of this connection, Miller has been there to help Cullison with her added pressures for the past two years. According to Miller, the two are comfortable with each other and know how to comfort and support each other.

This chemistry has transferred onto the court, allowing the girls to truly understand how the other plays, which is vital in their positions. Cullison says that her and Miller are always on the same page and understand what the other wants or needs in order to score. If Miller wasn’t there to set for Cullison, Cullison says that it would not only “feel weird,” but it would also affect her performance.

“I feel like Vanessa has definitely helped me be successful this year,” Cullison said.
Miller also recognizes the value of having Cullison on the court. “I think if we didn’t have Lauren, we’d be in some trouble,” Miller said.

Although Cullison and Miller’s skills are important to the team, there are a lot of other factors. Hoffman explains that the team can’t solely rely on Cullison to be the only scorer because other teams will catch on and start to block her. To combat this, the Lady Card’s back row work to get scoring options for both Lauren and other hitters to keep teams on their toes.