Isabel Stollsteimer has experienced several hindrances during her time with the Montrose High School volleyball team, but now the senior has been the leader of the Lady Indians offense this season.
After an ACL tear her sophomore year, and little playing time as a junior, Stollsteimer’s success as the team’s setter shows that “she paid her dues,” coach Shane Forrest said.
Despite a few setbacks, Stollsteimer kept a cheerful and optimistic demeanor when talking about the last couple of seasons.
“This year has been really great because I now get to step into that position that I’ve want to take,” she said. “Coming through those obstacles has shown how much volleyball really means to me.”
For setters to be successful, they have to play unselfishly, which has always been a part of Stollsteimer’s personality, Forrest said.
“She’s about making her teammates look good, and she wants to give them the best sets possible,” Forrest said. “She celebrates more than anyone else when (the hitters) get their kills.”
As a sophomore, Stollsteimer suffered an ACL injury in the first third of the season. It required surgery ,which meant she couldn’t play for six months.
While recuperating, Stollsteimer said she could only walk, as running or jumping would make the injury worse. She admitted having to wait such a long time to get better was a struggle.
“It was really tough,” she said.
Once she got back to being able to run and jump, Stollsteimer said she thought, “Here we go! Look out, I’m coming!”
But when she took her first step out on the court, she was a bit scared. Stollsteimer said the initial fears came down to knowing that she couldn’t necessarily control getting injured again.
“But it taught me to play through fear, and in the face of fear how to be a better player,” she said.
Then, as a junior, Stollsteimer was on varsity but saw little playing time as then-senior Madison Schneider was the team’s starting setter.
“We had a great setter last year so I didn’t get as much varsity experience,” Stollsteimer said. “So that was hard, especially coming off of that ACL injury.”
Stollsteimer hasn’t missed a set so far this season as she’s played in all the team’s 43 sets. The senior setter also has all of Montrose’s 371 assists to go along with 102 digs.
Forrest said Stollsteimer has been a catalyst for a Montrose offense that has a hitting percentage of .238 as a team.
“She just makes sets hittable and gets them where they need to be for the hitters,” the Montrose coach said.
Stollsteimer isn’t just leading the Montrose offense, but helping guide program as a whole.
As the setter, she’s not only supportive of her teammates out on the floor but encouraging the players on junior varsity and C-team, she said.
“You have to be a good teammate,” Stollsteimer said before pausing to sing along to “Happy Birthday” to fellow senior Hadley Greiner whose birthday was on Thursday.
Stollsteimer may seem like a natural leader when talking to her but she said it was hard to be thrust into such a position.
“It’s not easy to be thrown into a position where you have to take on leadership,” she said. “Especially, because not everybody reacts the same. It’s a role where you have to learn what people need.”
Although this season has been a learning one, Stollsteimer said it has also been a motivator to improve her abilities out on the court.
“It’s been a lot of fun. The leadership that I had to have has been really great as it’s made me step up my own personal game. And it’s given a lot of motivation to do better,” she said.
“I’m working hard to be the best player that I can be.”
Andrew Kiser is the Montrose Daily Press’ sports/business writer. Follow him on Twitter @andrew_kpress.