Finding her voice: M-S volleyball's Ainsley Ranstead brings vocal leadership to the court

Ainsley Ranstead is naturally really quiet. The soft-spoken sophomore changes when she steps on the court. The outside hitter has developed into one of the top offensive weapons for Stacey Buzicky's Mahomet-Seymour volleyball team.

"She has a beautiful line shot," Buzicky said. "She can hit on both the right side and the left side. We just have to work on her serve/receive and her defense."

Ranstead got some playing time as a freshman on varsity, but she's really come into her own both on and off the court as a sophomore. She's found her voice and her confidence.

"I'm more outgoing with my team," Ranstead said. "They pull a different side of me out. I'm a little quiet off the court, but I'm more fun and loud on the court. They're like my family so they get it out of me."

"She's way more confident this year," Buzicky added. "I hope she goes and plays at a really nice college. She's got the talent to play at the next level."

Savannah Matthews and Lauren Minick are the top two offensive options for M-S, but Ranstead is certainly the third most-effective. Ranstead had five kills in a match against Mattoon on Tuesday. Against Lincoln last week, Ranstead torched the Railsplitters for five kills.

"Savannah is my idol and so is Lauren," Ranstead said. "They push me to get to this position. I look up to them a lot. Savannah is so good. She works so hard in the gym.

"I play with her in club volleyball, and she tries so hard and has such a good attitude. It's good competition for me, and she makes me better every day."

Late in the third set against Mattoon, Ranstead stepped up with some big swings. She wasn't afraid of the moment, and she had confidence in herself to come through.

"It's kind of nice because she takes the pressure off Savannah, and it shows she's not afraid of getting the set," Buzicky said. "That shows she's really matured a lot as a player."

Ranstead was blocked a couple of times, but she never gave up on the play and helped M-S keep the rally alive.

"I always tell the kids, 'Keep swinging,'" Buzicky said.

"You're going to get blocked. That's the game. Keep swinging. You learn how to use the block. You're going to get better by mistakes."

Ranstead has just tapped into a little of her potential. Once she puts it all together, it'll be a terrifying proposition for the rest of the Apollo Conference because the ball just explodes off Ranstead's hand.

Matthews and Minick can help M-S be a really good team, but if Ranstead continues to impress, M-S could easily win a regional championship.

"I think we're starting to pull up our attitudes and working together as a team," Ranstead said.

"We have to get over all the hardships we've had as a team. It would mean a lot to win a regional championship. We haven't had our name out there a lot, but I think we can do it this year."

Categories (3):Prep Sports, Volleyball, Sports

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