Scheels Athlete of the Week: Regina Junior Wagner Embracing Leadership Role in Return to Setter Position

Ryan Murken

Your Prep Sports

IOWA CITY – The setter is always at the center of the action on the volleyball court.

That makes a setter a natural leader for any volleyball team.

Junior setter Sydney Wagner has fully embraced her role as the on-court leader for Regina this season, but that’s not where the leadership stops for Wagner.

On a team with five underclassmen starters, Wagner has become more than just your typical setter directing action between the lines.

“She really is the quarterback of our team, she is the one that everyone goes to,” Regina coach Lauren Hansen said. “Everyone calls her ‘mom’.”

Wagner smiles when she confirms the nickname her younger teammates have tagged her with.

The ‘mom’ moniker is well-earned for Wagner who is already in her third season as a regular in the Regal lineup.

“They call me ‘mom’ and that’s fine with me,” Wagner said. “I’ve always wanted this leadership role. I knew last year we were losing a lot of seniors and I am happy to take on that role. It’s been an adjustment from being an underclassmen with big senior leaders to being that leader but it’s been a good time.”

Not only has Wagner embraced her role as the unquestioned leader and team mom for Regina this season, the junior is thriving in her move back to her natural position of setter.

Wagner split setting duties during her freshman season posting 141 assists in a Regina 6-2 offense.

Last season Wagner made the move to middle where she collected 42 kills while helping the Regals to 20 wins.

This season Wagner is relishing her role as the lone setter in the Regals 5-1 offense.

“Last year we had two really great setters that were seniors and I had to be a role player,” Wagner said. “At middle I did what I needed to do but I’m really happy to be back setting this year and to run a 5-1 it’s been an adjustment but it’s been fun.”

Wagner spent the offseason preparing not only for the position switch and return to setter but also for her increased leadership role.

Once the season began this summer, Wagner went to work regularly beating even the Regina coaches to the gym.

“She is the first one in the gym setting every single ball she can before we even get there,” Hansen said. “There is nothing more I could ask out of her.”

The improvement from that work has been evident.

Wagner leads Regina with 444 assists in her first season running a 5-1 offense and has helped the youthful Regals to a 9-8 start to the season entering a meeting with 3A sixth-ranked West Liberty on Thursday.

“This is her first time ever running a 5-1 and that is difficult,” Hansen said. “When you are in a 6-2 you get to come out for three rotations and she is out there busting her butt every single set and every single point. It’s impressive to see.”

Not only is Wagner learning a new offense and a new role on the team, but she is working with a relatively new group of hitters.

The top three hitters from Regina this season are all underclassmen in freshmen Reese Naeve and Kiley Devery and sophomore Caitlin Martin.

“Once camp hit we stayed after practice because we had to get the connection down,” Wagner said. “I feel like it’s gone really well. It’s been a work in progress there are things we need to work on but I feel like we are working through it together.”

An offseason focus for Wagner was becoming an all-around player.

She has been successful in that this season ranking third on the team with 128 digs and second with 10 ace serves while leading the Regals in assists.

The in-season focus for Wagner is to win.

Something she believes the Regals do against any team when they are firing on all cylinders.

“When we play our volleyball and we focus on our side and it clicks we can play with anyone,” Wagner said. “You can see when it clicks and when it’s not clicking so when it clicks it’s good and I hope it keeps clicking. It cannot click until regionals start but if it clicks there that would be awesome.”

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