Sophomore volleyball setter Sami Leach was recently named the Crossroads League Setter of the Week due to her outstanding performances displayed during the week of Sept. 13-19, 2015. The Crossroads League names three players, one at each position (attacker, setter and defender), to receive this award in women’s volleyball each week. Leach also received this recognition once as a freshman and has now achieved this honor an astonishing four times in her one and a half seasons with the Lady Pilots. “It’s an honor any time you’re awarded something like this amidst all the talent in this league,” said Leach. “I’m super thankful for my coaches being willing to push and encourage me every step of the way in becoming the best athlete I can be.” Hailing from the city of Franklin, Wisconsin, Leach began her impressive volleyball career in third grade. Ironically, the future collegiate volleyball star was not even a fan of the sport at the time when she first began playing it in her early elementary days. “To be honest, I really didn’t like (volleyball) very much at first,” stated Leach. “Fortunately my dad was able to coach me and help keep the competitive spirit in the sport alive in me.” Leach stated that the continued support from her family has been a powerful force behind her pursuit of competing in volleyball at the collegiate level. “They’ve just always been there for me,” said Leach of her family. “In everything that I do, whether it be in sports or in college or life itself, they’ve always been by my side, and I’m so grateful for that.” Leach attended Divine Savior Holy Angels High School where, as a senior, she achieved the honor of being named the school’s Sportswoman of the Year (’13-’14). She was a multisport athlete in high school who competed in basketball, track and volleyball. Leach knew she wanted to continue her passion of volleyball at the collegiate level, but said that she found Bethel’s campus, team and spiritual atmosphere to be the things that made Bethel the perfect fit for what she was looking for in a school. Her success in high school carried her to a very smooth transition into becoming a pivotal piece of the Lady Pilots’ volleyball team. During her freshman year at Bethel, Leach led the Lady Pilots in assists with 1,262 during her first season while being named to both the Crossroads League All-Freshmen Team and the NCCAA North Central All-Region First Team. During her second year as a member of the Lady Pilots’ team she was recognized three times as the Crossroads League Setter of the Week. Head coach, Kevin Ulmer commented on the united excitement amongst the team for the success of Leach. “We’re all so proud and excited to see her be rewarded for what she’s accomplished while here at Bethel,” said Ulmer. “She’s a hard worker and has definitely provided a key piece in our lineup and team while she’s been present here at Bethel.” Ulmer also articulated how important it is to have an athlete leader in Leach in Bethel's volleyball program. “She’s an incredible athlete who’s accepted the role of a leader on and off the court, and she’s done it all as a sophomore,” stated Ulmer. “We’ve got a pretty young team this year and even as an underclassman the girls seem to look up to her. She always is wanting to work hard for us and lead by example at Bethel with her positive attitude in every match.” Leach is one of eleven underclassmen that make up the Lady Pilots’ volleyball team of fourteen players. She sees her youth not as an excuse but rather as a reason to provide her school with motivation in this year’s team. “No one has to tell us that we’re a young team, because we definitely know this and have actually come to embrace it as something that fuels our team’s comradery,” said Leach. “We’re completely confident that we can play with anybody and put up a great fight against any team, even if they may have more experience than us.” And once again, the Lady Pilots women’s volleyball team is out to a riveting start to their fall campaign. The Pilots moved up their record to 14-10 on the year after they took care of business Friday night by sweeping a three-game match against the Red Wolves of Indiana University East (IUE). Both Leach and Ulmer stated that, at the end of the day, the team is exuberantly focused on the ultimate goal of putting themselves in a position to win conference and advance to the national tournament. The team is just now beginning their second half schedule in conference play. One thing is for sure though. If you are looking for a rising star amidst a tough and competitive Crossroads League, look for Sami Leach to continue to "set" the bar high amongst the competition.