Ali Spohr is the third volleyball player to record a triple-double in Webster’s history. For Spohr, however, the most important thing is helping the team do well.
On Feb. 24, Webster University volleyball junior Ali Spohr came just one kill away from a triple-double. She had double-digit digs and assists, but just nine kills. A tenth kill would have made Spohr the third volleyball player in Webster history to record a triple-double. The last Webster triple-double was in 2005, by Webster Athletics hall-of-famer Melanie Klingelhoefer. Spohr was one kill away from making Webster history.
In her next game, just two days later, she did it.
Sixteen assists. Fifteen kills. Eleven digs.
A year ago, Spohr did not play enough varsity to even think about a triple-double. In her sophomore season, Spohr played in just 21 of the team’s 106 sets, playing mostly junior-varsity (JV). This year, Spohr has played every set. Those JV sets did help Spohr improve her game, however. Entering college, Spohr was exclusively a setter.
“Playing JV really allowed me to work on all aspects of my game outside of setting,” Spohr said. “That’s where I played my first match as an attacker and learned how to switch my mindset based on what role my team needed me to play.”
Spohr is the starting setter for varsity this year, but when another setter comes onto the court, Spohr doesn’t come off. She becomes an attacker, completely switching her mindset and changing her responsibilities.
“When I’m setting, I’m paying attention to the blocking schemes,” Spohr said. “I’m comparing the strengths of my attackers to the weaknesses in their defense. When I attack, I’m focused on my blocker. I want to know their tendencies and which way they like to move.”
Spohr uses the tendencies of her opponents to find weakness.
“I’ll do whatever I can to throw them off,” Spohr said. “Like if a blocker overshoots my right shoulder, I know the line defender can’t see my hand, so I’ll have the right over that outside blocker.”
Coach Merry Graf knew before the season that Spohr was headed in the right direction.
“[Spohr] has kept herself in great shape and looks to find her way onto the court this year,” Graf said prior to the start of the season. “She is a very hard worker, and I anticipate all her efforts will help her on the court this season.”
Spohr was not thinking about the triple-double at all during the game. Webster was playing Spalding, a team that is just behind Webster in the standings.
“We’re always just focused on that next point,” Spohr said. “I’m more happy about the team win [than the triple-double].”
The team currently sits third in the St. Louis Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SLIAC) standings. Spohr is the only member of the SLIAC with a triple-double on the season. She is only one of two players in all of Division III Volleyball with a triple-double this year.
In her next game, Spohr again achieved a double-double, this time finishing four kills shy of the triple-double. But Webster got the win, and to Spohr, that’s what’s most important.
“I did have a moment after the [triple-double] talking to my parents where I realized how far I had come from the little girl who was scared of the ball,” Spohr said. “But other than that, I try not to think about it too much. We have a lot of work to do to achieve our team goals and finish at the top of the conference.”