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2016 All-Area Volleyball Player of the Year: Maddy Reeb, Idaho Falls

Idaho Falls senior setter Maddy Reeb poses for a portrait in the Idaho Falls High School gym on Dec. 22. Reeb is the 2016 All-Area Volleyball Player of the Year. Taylor Carpenter / tcarpenter@postregister.com

By MARLOWE HEREFORD
mhereford@postregister.com

The athlete nicknamed ‘Little Red’ isn’t so little anymore.

When Idaho Falls High School senior Maddy Reeb first made varsity two years ago, she was the smallest player on the team and often the smallest on the court. The redhead is now 5-foot-10, a five-inch growth spurt she attributes to switching sports.

She followed a cousin into gymnastics at a young age, but volleyball tugged at her. Her mom, Margret, a former Eastern Washington volleyball player, used to coach JV and freshmen players at Skyline and brought Reeb with her.

“I remember me and my brother would always go hang out with her at the gym,” Reeb said. “I’d always try to be in the drills.”

Although she started playing volleyball in fifth grade and gave up gymnastics two years later, the gymnast blood is still there. Her conditioning from growing up in a gym and the growth spurt combined to improve her vertical leap for an especially hard punch for her senior season.

This fall, the Tigers unveiled ‘Little Red’ the versatile setter. After years of setting the likes of Bailee Mills, Taylor Sutton, Kaydre Thompson and Maya Taylor, Reeb added hitting and blocking to her repertoire and finished the season with 330 kills, 95 aces, 74 blocks, 298 digs and 680 assists.

The new role created shockwaves around eastern Idaho and across the net for every opponent the 36-9 4A state runner-up Tigers faced, and it landed her selection as the Post Register’s 2016 All-Area Volleyball Player of the Year.

The first team to see Reeb in her new role was Madison, which played Idaho Falls in the season opener for both teams. Madison coach Meranda Maestas had prepared the Bobcats and her new assistant coach for Taylor, who had a strong match, but Reeb caught them by surprise.

“We had never seen Maddy hit before,” Maestas said. “The first time we played them, she was hitting out of the middle. We tried to get a triple block and she was still hitting the middle line. It was the shock factor of, ‘Wow. She’s an amazing setter, but she can hit also.’”

While Reeb’s new role may have appeared spontaneous to opponents, Idaho Falls coach Wendy Johnson had it all planned. Thompson’s graduation created a need for a hitter, and Johnson approached Reeb before the season about filling that vacancy alongside Taylor.

“I’ve known all along Maddy can be a good hitter,” Johnson said. “Maddy can really be a force for us. When I asked Maddy about it, she was like, ‘I’m way excited.’ Credit to her for that. She did embrace it.”

Reeb had ample help with the adjustment, and she stayed motivated.

“It took me a while to learn placement instead of going up and swinging,” Reeb said. “Being able to watch Maya and the other hitters kinda helped me. It was a lot of competition within myself. A lot of it was me proving I could do it.”

Shocked reactions from across the net became the norm as the season went by and provided highlight reel moments for Reeb along the way. In a Sept. 14 home match against six-time defending 4A state champion Century in their first meeting as 4A District 5-6 opponents, Johnson told Reeb she wanted to see her ‘absolutely unload on somebody’ before the season ended. Reeb followed through resoundingly, capping a huge night with the elevated game-winning kill that brought the house down in the third set.

Twin Falls got a dose of Reeb’s firepower in a state winner’s bracket match against I.F. on Oct. 28 at Hillcrest. With the Tigers leading 12-10 in the second set, Taylor elevated for a would-be spike attempt before setting Reeb at the last second. Reeb hammered down the kill, prompting laughs and cheers from her teammates and coaches and dropped jaws from Twin Falls.

The play, which Taylor and Reeb call ‘The Surprise,’ is from a practice drill the Tigers call ‘Streetball Queens,’ and it is based on deceit.

“I told her, ‘Maya, set me!’” Reeb said with a laugh. “I thought for sure I was gonna hit it out of bounds. When it finally hit the floor, I was so shocked. I was probably just as shocked as everyone else.”

Reeb will finish her high school career with one final club season with the Idaho Falls Juniors before heading to Portland State, where she received a full-ride scholarship, in the fall. She said Vikings head coach Michael Seemann was excited to hear she took on hitting and blocking this year and she could contribute right away.

A member of Johnson’s final senior class at I.F., Reeb said she is grateful to have contributed to three consecutive state trophies and to have played for Johnson.

“She’s taught me a lot about being a good teammate and being a good person in general and having a positive attitude,” Reeb said. “I’ve had such good seasons and such good times. I remember when I was a freshman, I looked up to the senior girls so much and the legacy that they left. It’s a lot to be thankful for.”

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