Senior Spadafora helping team succeed through communication, level head

Senior setter Jenna Spadafora sets the ball for a teammate in the second game of the Active Ankle Tournament against Belmont on Aug. 28 at Worthen Arena. DN PHOTO BREANNA DAUGHERTY
Senior setter Jenna Spadafora sets the ball for a teammate in the second game of the Active Ankle Tournament against Belmont on Aug. 28 at Worthen Arena. DN PHOTO BREANNA DAUGHERTY

Season Statistics

Assists - 848

Kills - 116

Service Aces - 17

Digs - 205

Spadafora has put up big numbers for the Cardinals. Her 848 total assists this season are the most by any player in the Mid-American Conference. She averages 9.64 assists per set, the third-best average in the MAC. 

As Spadafora grew as a player throughout her collegiate career, her numbers rose as well. Head coach Steve Shondell has been watching her progress since she came to campus in 2012.

"Since last season, I've seen her become just a much more mature player," Shondell said. "She doesn't get rattled by anything that happens on the court and is playing like a great senior." 

Spadafora's success can be attributed to her great communication skills with her teammates, including fellow senior Kelly Hopkins. 

Hopkins's close off-the-court relationship with Spadafora has led to a good in-game relationship, as Hopkins has managed a team-leading 189 kills this season. 

"We hang out all the time off the court, and it has led to us having a great trust in each other on-court," Hopkins said. "I know that she is always going to put the ball where it needs to be."

Along with Hopkins, Spadafora makes sure to talk with all the other hitters as well. 

The team has played with as many as five freshmen on the court at a time, but so far have been able to find success. Communication is key to help them become comfortable on the court. 

"I always am talking to them, asking them where they want the ball so they can have the best hit possible," Spadafora said.

Spadafora's communication ability and calm demeanor under pressure has made her a major leader on the court. She constantly calls out plays and keeps the team on its toes, ready for anything. 

"She is always rallying the team together, keeping us calm and keeping us looking forward to the next point," Hopkins said.

As a leader of the team, her dynamic nature has allowed her to step up into other roles when needed. 

Due to various injuries of other players, Spadafora has become a force above the net. She has 116 kills this season, which falls just short of matching the 130 total she had all last season. Her attack percentage has also risen from .259 last year to .266 this year. 

Her various abilities give her a big role to play all around the court. 

"I've been working a lot this year on just making all my skills consistent for the team match in and match out," Spadafora said. "My teammates need to know what I'm going to bring every match, so that's what I try to do for them."

Spadafora's constant skill work helped her record a triple-double this year with 10 kills, 41 assists and 13 digs against Western Michigan. The last time a Ball State player recorded a triple-double was in 2002.

Despite her strong efforts, the Cardinals have gone on a five-game losing streak, putting them in fifth place in the MAC's West Division. However, the team can still make it into the conference tournament in November. 

Spadafora believes that the team will be able to regroup and bounce back with eight games remaining on the schedule.

"If one of us struggles, we all struggle. So we have to work hard and balance each other and keep us all going to succeed, and I think we can," Spadafora said.