Lincoln-Way West junior Elly Decker is a pretty low-key kid.
She doesn’t shout or stomp her feet after kills. She doesn’t look for attention. She’s quietly pleased when she surprises opponents.
Her basic philosophy?
“I just try my best to be as strong as I can for my team,” Decker said. “I play as hard as I can every game.”
She was definitely little on the noise but big on the numbers Tuesday night for the Warriors in a 25-23, 25-17 victory over host Providence in New Lenox.
Decker, a 5-foot-8 outside hitter, came up in a big way for the Warriors at the end of a back-and-forth first game. She had kills for their final two points.
She didn’t really demand the ball, but it was evident she was ready for the sets.
And both kills left no doubt.
“This season, I feel a lot more confident in myself to get those big swings,” Decker said. “When I feel that I have a good set, know that my middle is pulling a block and I have that seam open on the outside, I feel confident.
“I know there is an open spot and that my team set me up for it.”
Decker has been doing that a lot so far this season. She has definitely turned things up a notch.
In fact, Lincoln-Way West coach Kendall Villa had a surprise for the team after a recent match.
“I said, ‘Do you know who’s leading us in kills right now?’” Villa said. “When I said it was Elly, everyone was like, ‘Really?’ It’s so unassumed.
“Elly is so humble, you don’t see it as it’s happening. But at the end of the day, I’m tallying up the stats and going, ‘Wow, she led — again. She led — again.’”
Through seven matches, Decker has 45 kills, 45 digs and four aces.
She and Smith are rapidly becoming a one-two hitting combo to be reckoned with.
“Caroline is so confident, and she’s such a sweet person,” Decker said. “She helped bring me into the team and made me feel welcome. And she’s an amazing player with a great swing.
“We work really well together in back row on serve receive and having that dynamic of being able to have strong hitters in the front row on the outside at all times.”
Decker started playing volleyball when she was in fifth grade. She followed the lead of her mother, Ellen, who played volleyball in high school and college,
“I did a lot of dance and gymnastics when I was younger,” Decker said. “But my mom encouraged me to play volleyball for the team environment. So I started playing club and loved it. I never stopped.”
Decker started her high school career for the Warriors as a freshman on the JV team.
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“She always had the strongest swing on JV,” Smith said. “I thought she could have played on the varsity. She conquered JV, for sure.
“Elly is the best player to have on the court to bring calm and a come-together aura to the team.”
Calm? Decker had one moment during Tuesday’s match where she wasn’t so calm. It happened on a defensive play gone awry.
“I didn’t shift on my line defense,” Decker said. “I saw the hit, but I didn’t read it fast enough.”
Decker dove and got a hand on the ball, only to have it skip away. She slammed her hand to the court, but bounced right back up.
“Yeah, I got a little upset,” Decker said, laughing. “I was so close. I just wasn’t quite there.”
She got the next one.