Stats? They’re not all that
Numbers don’t tell the whole story of Callahan’s importance to Marist
Abby Callahan might not be the most noticeable player on the court when Marist meets Benet on Friday in a Class 4A semifinal.
But her importance won’t be denied.
RedHawks coach Jordan Vidovic made a startling discovery about the 5-foot-10 senior while going through some game films earlier in the season.
“After our second tournament I noticed she wasn’t leading us in kills, she wasn’t leading us in blocks,” Vidovic said. “I thought, ‘How can we get her going more?’ So I watched the film and I was like, ‘Man, she impacts every point in some positive way.’
“You don’t see it on the stat sheet, but in many ways she has been incredibly valuable.”
As a middle hitter. As a blocker. As a motivator. As a captain.
Callahan’s biggest value might be not in what she does, but what she could do. She and fellow middle hitter Mattie McCabe both are excellent decoys.
“Other teams definitely know that they have to hold with us (middle hitters) on a good pass,” Callahan said.
“That opens up holes all the way across the board for the
outsides and the rightsides.”
As the hitting stats pile up for Camryn Hannah, Maddie Arundel and Avery Jedry, she’s happy to help.
“I have a lot of fun with it,” Callahan said. “I think that’s a big part of why people play sports — to have fun. I definitely enjoy this team and this program.”
Callahan is one of seven returnees who will be trying to win their second consecutive state title. Nine players from the 2017 team graduated. Four were all-area players, including Player of the Year Molly Murrihy.
“We knew what we were losing, but the people coming back who were there last year knew what it would take,” Callahan said. “Some of the sophomores who are juniors now, got pulled up during playoffs and saw the effort that was put in to get there.”
One of the latter is junior outside hitter Jedry, who was brought up from the JV for the playoffs and watched at Redbird Arena from the bench.
“Seeing Abby start as a junior was pretty cool, especially with that large senior class,” Jedry said. “For her to start and be a leader to even the older girls kind of inspired me.
“She knows how to treat everyone on the team. She’s the one person that anyone can go to if they are struggling. And if she sees someone else struggling, she’ll be the one to step in and take the initiative to help them be better on the court and off the court.”
Callahan has been much more than just a decoy for the RedHawks. She has 152 kills and 58 blocks.
“Because she’s not the biggest for her position in the middle, some teams get caught off guard,” Vidovic said. “When she comes flying in at full speed and rips the ball past them, they don’t really know what just happened.
“And Abby doesn’t change when things get tight. If anything, she seems to get more comfortable. She gives us some momentum points, whether it’s just touching the ball or covering the ball, things you wouldn’t notice. She changes tough games for us.”
Marist and Benet have met twice. The RedHawks won 25-23, 23-25, 25-19 at the Wheaton Classic. Benet won 22-25, 25-22, 25-19 in a conference match on Oct. 16.
The Redwings are led by sophomore outside hitter Kyla Kenney and senior setter Ally Van Eekeren.
“Their strength is in wearing you down,” Vidovic said. “We’re comfortable and confident in what we need to do physically, but we know we’re in for a mental battle.
“Our girls were thrilled to see them win, because we know what that sets up. I mean, what more can you ask for, playing your biggest rival, playing a team in your conference that you’ve battled for five years now? People say that doesn’t happen anymore. But it’s happening this year.
“We’re embracing the opportunity.”
Senior Abby Callahan, right, doesn’t need to put big numbers on the stat sheet to prove her worth for Marist.