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Counter Dug In for Valley During Championship Campaign
Junior Emma Counter manned the libero position for the Valley Regional volleyball squad during the 2019 season. Emma led the team in digs and receptions, while helping the Warriors take home a Shoreline Conference championship. (Photo courtesy of Emma Counter )
Emma Counter played a huge role on the defensive end of the floor for the Valley Regional volleyball squad this year. As the team’s libero, Emma, a junior, helped the Warriors claim their first Shoreline Conference title since in 32 years during the recent season.
Despite being sidelined down the stretch due to medical reasons, Emma still recorded the most digs by a Warrior since the 2007 season with 393 to complement her 379 serve receptions. Emma was also a key leader on the bench for Head Coach Kathy Scott’s club during Valley’s historic Shoreline run. Emma feels glad to have been part of an epic campaign that saw her put up some solid numbers.
“I was very excited about the Shoreline win. It meant a lot, because my hard work throughout the whole season helped us get there. It was pretty cool that we got to where we did,” Emma says. “I was also pretty proud that had the most digs from anyone at Valley since 2007.”
It was difficult for Emma to have to miss those pivotal matches when the Warriors were fighting for their playoff lives, but she compensated for that with her presence on the bench. Emma made sure to support her teammates through thick and thin and was the biggest fan of senior Mahi Shah, who filled in at libero during Emma’s absence.
“She did a great job stepping in and taking on that role. The competitor in me wanted to play so bad, but Coach Scott couldn’t have picked a better person to fill in that spot,” says Emma of Shah. “I just wanted to be there to give some emotional support for the team. I tried the whole season to always check in on a personal level with everyone. I would do personal high-fives one-on-one with everyone. Before every match, I would go down the line.”
As a libero, Emma’s job is to be the first point of contact once the ball goes over the net, meaning that she has a lot of responsibility on both offense and defense. It’s a unique position for any player to have on the floor.
“I’m the first one to take the ball and get it up for our setter Alena Crosby, so she can set it up for the hitters,” Emma says. “I just try to make it easy on her, so that she doesn’t have to run around everywhere to make a good set.”
Emma plays a lot of volleyball throughout the year. In the summer, she participates in Sandbox Beach Volleyball tournaments with Kate Lange of Waterford. Emma says that being just one of two players on the court helps her work on all aspects of her game.
“Reading the ball really early helps. I play beach volleyball over the summer, and that helped a lot with my quickness and getting to the ball,” says Emma, who lives in Chester. “It’s a lot harder on the sand moving around, and there are only two of you. It teaches you a lot about teamwork and that connection of working with your teammate.”
Emma has experience playing different positions. While she likes libero the most, Emma believes that playing beach volleyball gives her a better understanding of every spot on the floor.
“It really forced me to work on my hitting. As a libero, I don’t hit the ball, and I started out as a setter,” says Emma. “I had the passing and setting part down pretty well, so it was helpful that I worked on my hitting during beach volleyball.”
Coach Scott loves the enthusiasm that Emma brings to the Warriors. Scott says that Emma’s attitude and passion for volleyball have a huge ripple effect on the squad.
“Emma’s a spirited and passionate player. It’s pure joy for her when she plays. She has high expectations for herself and her teammates, and that helps bring everybody up,” says Scott. “Emma really connects with the hitters. She’s a huge part of helping the girls feel confident. When she couldn’t play, she found a way to be there for the team and each player up and down the bench. The girls feel that she wants them to be successful.”
Emma also rows for the Valley Regional crew and is already training for the spring season. Emma has learned a lot from being on the water, and she hopes that experience will help her in both sports as a senior next year.
“I feel like rowing taught me a lot about mental toughness. I can help my teammates a lot with that knowledge, too,” Emma says. “Rowing has taught me you cannot miss a day. Every part of the boat is so important. You always have to be there for your team.”