Sports Person of the Week
Crosby Sets the Tone for the Warriors
Alena Crosby is a senior captain setter and one of the keys to Valley Regional girls’ volleyball team’s success. Alena also served as a junior captain with the Warriors’ girls’ basketball squad last season. (Photo courtesy of Alena Crosby )
Alena Crosby has played a key role with the Valley Regional girls’ volleyball team for the past four seasons, and she’s been a big contributor on the basketball court, too. As a captain for both teams, Alena hopes that she can make some more memories with the Warriors in her senior year.
Alena is an accomplished setter for Valley volleyball squad. Last year, the Warriors claimed the Shoreline Conference Tournament title with a 3-2 comeback victory over top-seeded Hale-Ray in the final. That moment was one of Alena’s biggest achievements, along with earning All-Shoreline Conference First Team and All-State honors.
“I would say the Shoreline championship was really fun and unexpected. We were the 6th seed going up against the 1st seed. That’s probably my proudest team accomplishment,” says Alena. “Personally, I made All-State last year, and I was a First Team all-leaguer.”
Alena has proven a talented setter over the course of her career with the Warriors. Alena can still remember the day she was called over by Valley’s former coach Kathy Scott to give setting a shot during her freshman year. After more than three years setting, Alena has seen tremendous progress at the position.
“Coach Scott pulled me over at a JV practice and told me to try setting, because she said I have good hands. That was the start of it and, after that, I pretty much loved it,” Alena says. “I definitely think I’ve improved a lot. I think it came with confidence. I was always looking at the coach or asking the hitters if the set was any good. Now, I know what a good set is.”
An effective set can be just as important as recording a kill on the volleyball court. Fortunately for the Warriors, Alena and her teammates have the skills to earn the kills.
“I don’t care where the ball is, as long as it’s high enough. I have to be low and on my toes, and my hands have to be in that ready position. As long as the ball’s high, I feel like I’m prepared for it,” says Alena, who lives in Deep River. “Luckily, our libero Emma Counter is very good, so I get a lot of good feeds. If I have to scramble for something, I’ll try to get a fist in there and lunge. It’s kind of just quick thinking when you have to make a move like that.”
While volleyball is a relatively new sport for Alena compared to her experience playing basketball, her training has helped her get better on both courts.
“I’ve been playing basketball since elementary school. I wanted to try volleyball to stay in shape. It also helps with footwork, because there’s a lot of quick sprinting in it. Then I ended up loving it,” Alena says. “Shooting a basketball is all about form and how your hands finish, and that’s the same for setting. I focus on the technical parts. I love playing defense in basketball, and lot of those drills you have to stay low, which is what you have to do in volleyball. I’ve also gotten a lot stronger—which came from basketball training—so now I can push the ball a lot farther than I used to.”
After serving as a captain for the girls’ basketball team last season, Alena is currently holding that role with the volleyball squad. Alena believes that her stint as a junior captain prepared her to take a more prominent leadership role in her senior year.
“Being a captain in basketball helped me being a captain in volleyball. I’m a lot more confident speaking with the team and more comfortable in that position,” says Alena. “At first, it’s tough having that position over your teammates, but I’ve worked hard in finding a balance. All the captains have been really helpful in working with me setting up summer leagues and stuff. It’s been awesome.”
Alena’s offseason was a big challenge with the COVID-19 pandemic raging across the country. However, Alena found several ways to stay engaged and, as the volleyball preseason ramped up, she and her teammates honed their skills in order to gain an edge.
“[Coronavirus] made it hard especially in the beginning. Pretty much all of our summer league stuff, practices, and early morning weight room workouts were canceled. We couldn’t touch a volleyball until the week before the first game,” Alena says. “We were in the parking lot, we conditioned with masks. It helped us a lot. We did stuff on the wall for a good while. I would pick bricks and try to hit the same spot every time.”
Valley girls’ volleyball coach Patrice Nelson has seen Alena’s leadership both on and off the court. Nelson has been impressed by watching Alena in action.
“Alena plays with so much heart, and her upbeat energy is contagious. She stays mentally steady on the court, yet her quickness and her great setting elevates our hitters to play their best game. Alena is beloved by her teammates and coaches and has proven to be such a positive role model for all players, right down to the freshmen,” Nelson says. “It has been a privilege coaching her this year, and we are all wishing her the best in her future.”
As for that future, Alena hopes that the winter will bring Valley a successful basketball season. Alena also wants to continue playing volleyball after she graduates from high school. In any event, Alena will always remember her Warriors’ teammates and the time that they shared together.
“I definitely want to keep playing volleyball, and I would like to play at a school. If I can’t play on a school team, I would still play intramural,” says Alena. “I would just like to shout out my whole team. Everyone has really stepped up and been really strong.”