Johanna Batterton sets the pace at Council Rock North

NEWTOWN – Every fan thrills to watching a kill shot in volleyball. The excitement, however, really starts with the precision passing and setting that leads up to the big blow.

Johanna Batterton, setter for the Council Rock North girls volleyball team fully believes in this sports truism. Johanna fell into the setter position innocently enough. “It wasn’t until my freshman year that I became a setter. The coach said I had good hands. So I tried it out and loved it.”

The personable junior felt right at home in her new position. “For me, I kind of had a knack for it. As soon as I started, it came naturally to me, especially because I also play softball which is my main sport. In seventh grade when a lot of girls were hitting underhanded, I hit overhand.”


In the Indians’ recent 3-0 Suburban One League National Conference victory over CR South, Johanna certainly offered evidence for her self-evaluation. She combined with sophomore Maddy Moore for 28 assists. The perfect sets led to seven kills apiece by senior Alysa Kuiken and junior Hadley Grundman.

Though turning in a sterling performance, Johanna knows she wants to continue to improve upon her already effective skills. “Because this is my first year on varsity, I need to improve on the precision of the location of my sets. On JV, as long as I got it to the hitter and it was a hittable ball, it was okay.”

The demands changed once Johanna entered the world of varsity competition. “Now, my task includes getting the ball a certain distance from the net. There are four different kinds of special hits. Those sets have to be perfect for the timing and for them to have a nice ball to hit. The precision of my sets had to be narrowed down.”

The different sets all help generate the Rock’s complex offense. “For the outside hits, what we do is push it out to the hitter and then slam it down. We could also do a faster pace set where the ball is shot out so they have to approach it quicker and that throws the blocker’s timing off. The middle hits are the most interesting ones. We can do a simple one-hit ball, which is one ball height over the net. That’s the general one.”

Regardless of the type of shot, the Indians found success in their big victory over their sister school. They roared out to a 25-13 win in the first set. Then they battled to take a narrow 26-24 conquest in the second set. From there on, North cruised to its three set shutout.

The Indians had certainly met all their game goals. “We really wanted to focus on winning our passing game and controlling everything we could. One of their seniors, Grace Laggan, is very good and is able to dig the ball in a controlled way. We didn’t want to hit the ball to her so we did our best to aim for the seams between players.”

The strategy worked to perfection as the Indians earned neighborhood bragging rights as well as a feeling of pure accomplishment. “It was amazing. It’s one of those energy-pumping moments, especially when we got on the bus and started doing our cheers. We were singing. At North, the dynamics of the volleyball team is that we are a huge family. We boost each other’s confidence any chance we get.”

The total team effort had definitely met Johanna’s team appraisal. “We are a very developed team. One of our biggest strengths is that we are all good, individually. We came into this season well-trained and prepared. We didn’t have to start at the bottom up and build basics. We went right into our specialty plays and got a better jump on the other teams.”

One team the Indians are gunning for is archrival Pennsbury, the reigning SOL National champ. That looms big in the Indians’ season goals. “Our coach kids and says we’ll see that team in states so we all have that as a long term goal. We really want to go far into the playoffs and districts and hopefully, states. But our most immediate goal is to beat Pennsbury.”

With Johanna ‘setting’ the pace, the Indians are definitely aiming for their October 5 showdown with the league front-running Falcons.

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