Chemistry experiment

One glance at sophomore setter Dominique Fradella’s volleyball resume and any fan would come away impressed.

One glance at sophomore setter Dominique Fradella’s volleyball resume and any fan would come away impressed.

Last season, Fradella was awarded with the Big Sky Conference Outstanding Freshman award, as well as landing a spot on the all-conference second team. Continuing to build on her success, she is averaging 11.26 assists per game this season, and her career average of 12.52 assists per game is the best in school history.

Accolades aside, lately Fradella’s role has expanded for a Vikings squad that stands alone in second place in the Big Sky Conference at the midpoint of the season. At times, first-year head coach Michael Seemann and staff has found a way to incorporate her into a hitting role in the team’s offensive scheme.

With only six players on the court at a time, and limited space, typically one setter per team is adequate and considered the norm. Recently, Seemann has utilized the depth of his team by playing sophomore setter Savannah Reid.

When Reid enters the game, there has been noticeable confusion amongst opponents and even some of the Viking faithful, as they question why the squad would need both setters on the floor at once.

The doubt quickly fades as it becomes clear that with Reid in the game, she will become the team’s setter and Fradella will enter into the normal rotation as an outside hitter. Fradella, no longer responsible for assisting the team in earning kills, since that responsibility shifts to Reid, instead becomes responsible for providing vital attacks for the squad.

The experiment could be likened to a tactic that some football teams have used when the quarterback is switched to running back or receiver in an attempt to utilize different aspects of their athletic ability.

The “setting experiment” has seen good results. Seemann employs the tactic in games where the lead is comfortable, and usually the trial only lasts for a few minutes, although the team has prepared for the switch regularly in practice.

“We like to make the change when the offense is a little slow, and Nique is one of our best hitters,” Seemann said. “We may go to it more down the road, especially if we have continued success.”

Provided with an opportunity to showcase her complete volleyball skills, Fradella has flourished. In a match against rival Eastern Washington, she notched seven kills to go with 37 assists. In matches this year Fradella’s hitting percentage is above .400, the best on the squad by a wide margin.

The other players on the team seem to enjoy the chance to play with the hard-hitting Fradella, especially sophomore outside hitter Marija Vojnovic.

“It is really fun to play with Nique, when she is swinging. And Savannah has done such a good job when she comes in,” Vojnovic said. “Our team has really good chemistry so it doesn’t matter as much who is in there.”