STAKING OUT HER SPOT — St. John Fisher College’s Paige Willson gets in position, during a recent volleyball game. Photos provided by St. John Fisher Sports Information.
SPRINGVILLE — St. John Fisher Colleges womens volleyball coach Kelly Greapentrog cannot stop talking about Paige Willson, one of her standout volleyball players.
“There’s just so much to say about Paige. I want to keep going,” Greapentrog, said, with a laugh. “She works so hard; she does everything the right way. It’s just a privilege to coach her.”
Willson, a 2011 Springville Griffith-Institute graduate, just finished up her third year of volleyball at Fisher. According to the coach, Willson has earned a great amount of respect, because of the body of work she has put together, since her freshman year. In high school, Willson was an Erie County Interscholastic Conference III first team all-star, during her junior and senior seasons. During that time, she led her Springville team in both kills and blocks.
“She was a pretty good player in high school, but she has really worked hard to fine-tune all of her skills,” said Greapentrog. “As she continues to improve, the little things that she’s been improving, every single year, she can have the most kills she’s ever had in a season and the most blocks she’s had, as a senior. Paige can really do some nice things, for us.”
Willson, a junior, was a veteran player on a young team at S-GI, as one of six juniors and seniors on the roster. With 12 underclassman, Willson was looked upon as a leader to help groom a young squad, Greapentrog noted.
“She just sets such a good example,” Greapentrog added, about Willson’s impact, as a leader. “She’s a tremendous student and she works very hard, in the offseason. She’s always positive and she’s very coachable. I think the younger players look up to her and aspire to be as hardworking and be the kind of player she is.”
OVER AND ABOVE — Paige Willson lets one fly, during a recent St. John Fisher game.
Greapentrog said she has noticed Willson’s hard work in the summer and called her the “most conditioned and fit athlete on the team.” She has had a steady climb in all statistical categories, since her freshman year. This past season, Willson set career-highs in kills, with 211, and blocks, with 103. She has amassed 473 kills, during her career at Fisher. Willson herself noted a big leap in her blocking, as a junior.
“With two years of experience, coming into my third year, I definitely increased my game, in blocking especially,” Willson said. “I had about 20 more blocks this year than I had last year.”
“Number one, just her developing and growing, as a player; the more you block, the better you get at it,” said Greapentrog.
“It’s a lot of timing and quick judgments. There’s not a lot of room for error. We did some different drills with her that may have been a little unconventional, but it really showed her what she was capable of doing, in the practice setting. Then, as the season went on, her numbers really went up.”
Willson is on track to finish in the Top 10 in St. John Fisher history, in terms of blocking. She is a three-sport athlete at Fisher, competing in indoor and outdoor track, in addition to volleyball. This calls for her to be on campus from mid-August to late May.
“It’s definitely a process and something you have to get used to,” Willson said. “Juggling different things, with school, jobs and sports, in general, is definitely easier, now that I’ve learned a system and have past experience. It’s a big commitment, but you also learn that you have to put aside certain time just to work on your school work. That’s what you’re going to college for, to get your degree. Finding a good balance between athletics and schoolwork is really essential, to be successful both on and off the field. ”
The volleyball season concluded a few weeks ago. Willson will now direct her attention to indoor track. She was a second-team All-Empire 8 All-Star, as a freshman, and earned first team recognition, as a sophomore. Willson’s first meet is on Dec. 7 for the Cornell Relays.
Willson is the daughter of Eric and Judy Willson.