Shelby Hoffman fully admits that she's more of a basketball player than a volleyball player. But the key to her success on the court — any court — is a competitive drive that's motivated by the success of her team.
But sometimes that can have a side effect that plays into the favor of the athlete. A junior this last season, Hoffman typically played as a hitter but coach Kelley Hale saw a glaring hole at the libero position and moved her to fill that gap.
Needless to say it worked out. The Falcons finished the year at 24-8 and Hoffman made her way into the newly updated CHSAA volleyball record book by recording 895 digs in the season. It puts her at the very top of that category.
"If I'm going to play a sport, I'm going to give it my all," Hoffman said. "Coach put me at libero this year for the very first time. I didn't know what to think about it at first, but it was kind of fun and digging was really fun."
Hoffman wasn't the only volleyball player to set a record in the fall of 2019. Palmer Ridge freshman Kyra Kisting ended the year with 1,223 assists to top that category and Castle View senior Leanne Lowry set a career mark with 2,177 digs.
What will tie these three players together is that the records they set were about setting up others for success. And they were never doing with the mindset of getting their names atop a list of record holders.
"I knew I was close (to the record)," Lowry said. "But it was never really something that I had on my mind the entire time."
She played and battled for every dig like it was her mission to reach that mark, however. In just the Sabercats' fifth match of the year, she had a season-high 32 digs in a five-set win over Palmer Ridge.
She averaged 5.7 digs per set as a senior and kept her play at a consistent level which proved to be a key factor in setting that career record.
"It just shows that everyone is really focus on who hits the ball, which is a very important aspect," Lowry said. "It's really cool to show people how important libero and defense is. For me that was really cool."
And often times, the direct pass to setup a thrilling kill can get overlooked. But Palmer Ridge's Kisting thrived on making sure she the ball set up for the right hitter at the right time.
Her first year in the program resulted with her seeing significant varsity time and proved essential in the Bears' run to the Class 4A state title match against rival Lewis-Palmer. She also ended the season with more assists in a single season than anyone else in Colorado history.
"I was really blessed with an amazing back row that started every play," Kisting said. "I also had such a variety of hitters that I knew I could go anybody. And they were all so welcoming to me."
With plenty of volleyball still to play in her career, Kisting plans on using a season record to motivate her to improving as an overall volleyball player.
"It's really been pushing me to get better," Kisting said. "Now my goals are becoming a better athlete and a better teammate. I feel like this is all making me better."