The Sin Eater

“The setter is the hardest working player on the court that receives no glory.” –Anonymous

Whether you’re a setter or any other position on the court, this quote seems to hold true on many teams. Don’t get me wrong–every single player on the court works hard and everyone has their jobs to do. In my opinion, the middle blocker position is the most physically demanding position on the court. But I will stand by the quote that the setter is the hardest working player on the court.

In fact, a local coach commented that the setter is like the “sin eater.” What is a sin eater, you ask? The idea stems from ancient times, with the Aztec goddess Tlazolteotl. At the end of someone’s life, they were allowed to confess their misdeeds to her, and according to legend, she would cleanse their soul by “eating its filth.”

In this way, the setter is the sin eater on the court. Not in as much as eating filth, but rather running down bad passes and setting up hitters to get big kills. Anyone who has ever passed a bad ball and then watched in horror as your setter has to chase down the pass knows that the setter does their best to make your pass look perfect and easy to set, no matter where it is.

For hitters, a good set is absolutely important to be able to see the block and then be able to place a hit for a kill. A good set is a good set in the hitter’s eyes, no matter where the pass is. And, if you get a bad set, blame the setter, obviously.

As a setter myself, I cannot tell you how many times I’ve taken the blame for a hitter’s missed hit, or a hit straight into a one-on-one blocking situation. I would have to say that taking responsibility as a setter for a hitter’s errors isn’t always the best pride-builder, but in many cases, it is absolutely necessary. Hitters need confidence, and if a setter goes off on a hitter about hitting into a block or out, the hitter’s confidence will plummet. But, if a setter takes responsibility, the hitter will relax a bit and not get too worked up over an error the next time around.

Hitters, though, don’t think that when we tell you that it’s always our fault that it is. It’s simply our job to make you look good, and we need you to have confidence.

Being a sin eater on the court rarely gets people a lot of glory, but it’s a setter’s job to be able to work with what’s thrown at us. Literally.

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