The success rate in volleyball for a middle blocker isn’t very high. Mossyrock High School senior Heather Edgar has known this truth since sliding into the position four years ago.
“It’s incredibly hard – you’re guessing which way they’re going to hit it,” said the 5-foot-10 Edgar as she breaks down the math. “You obviously have a better chance at getting a solid block if you guess right. If you guess right 50 percent of the time, you’re probably going to have a chance at a block half of those times. So the numbers keep getting smaller and smaller.”
At the end of a match, a middle blocker could play outstanding, but only be credited with a handful of blocks on the stat sheet.
“You have to try to block everything and it only pays off a few times a night,” Vikings head coach Alex Nelson said. “People don’t pay attention to the block, but that is our first line of defense. It really is a thankless job.”
It is, but Edgar has fallen in love with it nonetheless.
“I really have,” said Edgar, who was moved to the position mid-way through her freshman year. “It’s hard work, but it’s worth it. Everyone loves a good block. It can be a turning point in a match. It really gets the entire team excited.”
Edgar and her teammates have had plenty to be excited about the last few years as Mossyrock has been one of the top programs in the 2B classification. The Vikings have advanced to the state championship in each of the last two seasons, finishing as the state runner-up both times.
Coming up with a momentum-turning big block isn’t the only thing that’s being asked out of Edgar this season. She’s the Vikings’ lone senior on the roster, requiring her to play a much larger leadership role than in previous seasons.
“Last year we had such a strong group of seniors, and they brought a lot of energy to the team,” Edgar said. “At the start of the year, I realized I was the only [senior]. So I guess I’m in charge now. It’s really hard being the only one, but a lot of girls have stepped up in helping with the leadership part. Andee [Nelson] and Faith [Mulligan] have done a great job of being leaders on the court, and the younger players are doing great bringing energy.”
Mossyrock advanced to the 2B state championship match for a second consecutive season last year, eventually losing a thrilling five-set match to Colfax in the title contest. The second-place finish came a year after the Vikings lost in five sets to league rival Kalama in the championship match.
Gone is last year’s senior class, which included three players who are now playing in college, but Mossyrock hasn’t missed too much of a beat during the first portion of the season as several new faces have seamlessly filled in the voids.
“I think a lot of people knew we lost a large senior group that did well for two years and thought we would be down a little bit this year,” Nelson said, “but these girls are working really well together. We had six players on the floor and seven in the rotation (last year) that were really good, but we also had six players behind them pushing them, and making them better. They’ve been waiting for their chance and now it’s here. Everyone anticipated a big drop off, but this team is stepping up. They all want to keep moving our program forward.”
Despite their absence, Edgar says she is still benefitting from last year’s seniors as she credits those players in helping transform her into one of the 2B Central League’s top middle blockers this year.
“I think that’s where a lot of my blocking came from,” Edgar said. “We had all these great hitters slamming it out down my throat every day last year. Most of our practices were more intense than games. It was tough, but I learned a lot and things just kind of clicked for me last year.”
After playing a non-league schedule which featured a three-set sweep of 2A Centralia, Mossyrock settled into league play by winning five out of its first seven matches with all five victories coming via sweep, and are now eyeing another deep postseason run.
“We’ve talked about having a target on our back,” Edgar said. “People want to beat us. We have to play harder because of the success we’ve had in previous years. We know if we only put out half the effort and every team we play against puts out all their effort, we’re not going to win. So we have to be at 100 percent every time we play, but I love that. It makes us work harder because everyone here wants to continue on what we’ve done the last few years here.”