It had been 11 months since Jenna Spadafora lined up at outside hitter.

The sophomore setter had her game plan turned upside down Friday when freshman Mackenzie Kitchel injured her left calf. With the offense struggling, Ball State volleyball head coach Steve Shondell made a switch to try to create offense.

“It was weird, it’s been a long time since I’ve been out there,” Spadafora said. “After a while, a little bit came back to me, and I started feeling more comfortable.”

Spadafora in 2012:
148 kills, 60 errors, .197 attack percentage

Spadafora against Bowling Green State University, 2013
8 kills, 4 errors, .222 attack percentage

Spadafora against Miami University, 2013
6 kills, 6 errors, .000 attack percentage

Despite being a setter, she spent last season at outside hitter because of team injuries. Even without it being her natural position, she thrived. The Fort Wayne, Ind., native was named to the Mid-American Conference All-Freshman Team and racked up 148 kills.

But the sudden change was a shock to Spadafora, who hasn’t played outside hitter all season and hasn’t taken a rep at that position in practice all year.

“I thought she played pretty well considering the circumstances,” Shondell said. “We couldn’t have asked her to do much more.”

Her experience in 2012 prevented Spadafora from becoming rattled, saying that having a history as an outside hitter allowed the transition to be smoother than most.

Senior Jacqui Seidel, the team’s starting setter, said after Friday’s match that she thinks Spadafora was one of the best outside hitters in the MAC last season.

Against Bowling Green State University, the emergency outside hitter finished with eight kills in four sets, although she only played the final two as a hitter.

The next day, Spadafora helped lead her team to a win against Miami University with six kills as the team deferred the offense to the middle blockers.

“She stepped up to the occasion, we all knew she would,” Seidel said. “She’s only going to get better as she gets more reps.”

She has seen those reps in practice this week. With Kitchel and sophomore outside hitter Alex Fuelling sidelined, Spadafora has prepared for the possible situation where she would be starting at outside hitter this weekend.

The extra time allows Spadafora to concentrate on bringing herself to the level of comfort she had last season in the position. She said although she’s had success in the position, she feels more comfortable as a setter because there’s more potential to grow.

Having extra time to think didn’t help her much last weekend. Between the Bowling Green and Miami games, Spadafora had too much time to think about lining up in a position that she hadn’t seen all season.

“Being thrown in there against Bowling Green, I just had to play as hard as I could,” she said. “With Miami, I had 24 hours to prepare mentally, but overthinking it could have made things worse. …I never truly got comfortable with it.”

Spadafora may not have much time as an outside hitter as previously thought because Shondell said he hopes Kitchel will be ready to play this weekend.

In either case, Spadafora will work off the rust. The difference between upcoming Friday’s match against Central Michigan University and Saturday’s match against Miami is just six days.

That’s a lot less than 11 months.

Spadafora in 2012:
148 kills, 60 errors, .197 attack percentage

Spadafora against Bowling Green State University, 2013
8 kills, 4 errors, .222 attack percentage

Spadafora against Miami University, 2013
6 kills, 6 errors, .000 attack percentage