FH Mercy's Lerg continues to excel after position change, leading Marlins to big 2014 seasonVolleyball  |
Farmington Hills - When changing positions in any sport, a transition period takes place. The athlete must make adjustments to the new role, add different responsibilities and, in some cases, expect a drop off performance.
In this respect, Farmington Hills Mercy's Jenna Lerg is unique. Lerg continues to excel despite switching positions.
Lerg spent most of her high school and club career playing libero where she became one of the best at her position. Lerg made the switch to outside hitter this season and hasn't missed a beat.
Lerg committed to Michigan, where her sister, Lindsey, plays. It is expected that Lerg will play libero for the Wolverines.
Lerg is not without experience playing outside hitter. Two Mercy graduates, including her sister were instrumental in teaching Lerg the new position.
"I started playing it a little bit in my sophomore year, and then my junior and senior year," she said. "I learned from others on the team, like my sister who was on the team and Maddy Doyle, who was a libero and could hit, so I learned a lot from them on how to use the block and face the ball."
Mercy coach Loretta Vogel said Lerg needed to make some adjustments, but that her athleticism made the transition one Lerg could handle.
"For Jenna, everything is in that defensive portion," Vogel said. "Then to switch her into the mindset to realize the technique of attacking, knowing that I'm going to use the block as an opening so I'm going to go down the line. The entire train of thought changes, it's a drastic thought process and she has great ups and she has a great arm swing and anytime someone's a libero, they don't have a chance to work on their arm swing."
Lerg has led the No. 2 ranked Marlins to a 41-2-2 start and she has put together a season worthy of consideration for the Miss Volleyball Award, the award Doyle won in 2011.
"It's obviously an honor for me, but I try to tune it out a little bit," Lerg said. "I don't think of myself as much, I just try to think about my teammates and how I can help them succeed before I think about myself."
Vogel said that what sets Lerg apart from other players is her ability to do everything on the court and play every position as well as she does.
"They all have different qualities," she said. "The thing that makes Jenna unique is that she can play every position at a very high level and be very proficient. Jenna is able to utilize the entire game at such a high level and as a hitter, she scores points and I think that's what sets Jenna apart from everyone."
Lastly, Lerg, as a senior, has grown into a leadership role for the Marlins, a team with high expectations.
Vogel said Lerg's leadership qualities were present from the beginning; Lerg's freshman season.
"I think what's helped Jenna is that when she arrived here as a freshman, she was able to play," Vogel said. "(Lerg) gained a lot of experience and learned from a lot of individuals who are very knowledgeable in the game. Coming into this season, she just has a tremendous amount of confidence, but also, she makes her teammates feel comfortable cheers them on and everything in terms of encouragement. She also makes big plays at the big moments."
Being that leader, the one who takes charge in critical parts of a match, has been Lerg's goal all along with the end result a trip to the state finals in Battle Creek.
"I really wanted to bring senior leadership to the team, because I feel that without senior leadership, teams can fall apart," she said. "For a team, we really want to be strong in our league and we want to win a regional final, because we've failed two years in a row and it'd be awesome to do that.
"That would mean the world. I've dreamt about going to Battle Creek with my team and just playing on the big court with all of the fans watching us come as far as we have this season."