PANTHER OF THE WEEK: Volleyball’s Meldau shows willingness to evolve

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By Lance Catchings

Senior Molly Meldau will rarely lead the stat sheet on the court for the Lady Panthers, but her impact on the team goes far beyond statistics. She brings an enthusiasm and excitement for the game that is undeniable to her coaches and teammates.

Her selection as Panther of the Week by Head Coach Gretchen Peterson shows that you don’t have to score every point, make every throw or catch every ball in athletics to have a positive impact on your team.

“Molly has been an uplifting and positive teammate who works hard to make herself better,” Peterson said. “She also celebrates her teammate’ success more than her own and that should never be overlooked.”

Meldau is a two-year letterman of the Liberty Hill volleyball team. Last season she was a rotational player, but this year as a senior she has stepped into a leadership role.

“My role on the team this season has been one of more leadership qualities,” Meldau said. “Our team is fairly young this season because we have one freshman and a couple sophomores, which is a little unusual for a varsity team. I think sometimes they get flustered and they look to me to be calmer on the court.”

The Lady Panthers seem to have turned the corner as they enter district play and Meldau said she believes it is because of her team’s work ethic.

“Peterson is an intense coach when it comes to practice,” she said. “When it comes to other teams and districts, our practices are just run very efficient. They are fast paced, and they may be something different that other schools do not experience. Our practices are always mimicking game settings. I think it helps us immensely because when we play slower paced teams we can dictate the pace. How another team plays will not dictate how fast our game will be. We try to have the same pace every time we play.”

As a six-year member of the Liberty Hill volleyball program, Meldau played her way through the ranks. She believes that the player development she has experienced is one of the reasons she is making an impact on the court now. In the district opener against Burnet she made some key passes to help her team rally.

“I think our program is incredible at player development,” she said. “When I came into the high school level I was a right-side hitter. I had only ever played front row and had never played back row. My sophomore year I transitioned into a defensive specialist and now I don’t hit at all. I am a consistent defensive specialist passer and I was not a good passer at all when I came into high school. When I got here I was tall and lanky. I was good at hitting but I could not pass and now it is the complete opposite. Our program completely transformed my passing and I wouldn’t have been a passer had I not moved to the back row and worked on it.”

Her advice to younger players is to be open minded and work hard if you want to see the court.

“When Coach Peterson first asked me to move I was hesitant,” she said. “I knew it was the role I needed to take if I wanted to continue to be on varsity. My hitting skills were not where some of the other girls were, and I was not growing anymore. I knew if I wanted to play and be on varsity I needed to figure out a different skill set and that was passing. Growing up in Liberty Hill I think everybody has an idea of wanting to be apart of that varsity team. If you want to do that sometimes you have to move to different areas to become a well-rounded player. You can’t just come in and think you will be good at one thing and only do that. Your team will need you for different things, so it is important to keep an open mind.”

She also believes that you only play as good as you practice. For a while she was a practice player and did not see the court often, but she is passing on the lessons she learned from that experience.

“Practice is extremely important and who you practice against is extremely important,” she said. “From my experience going back to last year I didn’t play a ton but the girls that did always made us feel like we were needed. I feel it is important to have those players in practice on the other side of the court. Three out of the five days a week you are going against people that are making you better. I say that to all the younger girls that without them on the other side of the net there is no way the other side can get better.”

As she enters the final leg of her senior volleyball season she hopes to leave a lasting impression of encouragement on her teammates.

“I hope my teammates remember me as that pat on the back that they will be fine,” she said.

“As a senior my advice is to soak it all up while you can. Soak up the team dinners and the long bus rides because it flies by and before you know it its over.”

Meldau and the Lady Panthers host Salado Friday night in their third district match of the season.

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