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Switched hitter: Fontbonne’s Greenstein adapting to position change

Fontbonne’s Emily Greenstein digs ball during a match against St. Francis Prep.
Photo by Robert Cole

Emily Greenstein has been a middle hitter since she was 11 years old, and always wondered what life on the outside was like.

Fontbonne Hall coach Linda Strong played her there sparingly last season as the Bonnies won the school’s first Brooklyn-Queens diocesan girls’ volleyball title, but she was mainly a middle hitter out of necessity.

“There was just this lack of middles on the team,” Greenstein said. “I was the middle for the sake of there not being one.”

That has changed this season as Fontbonne looks to repeat. Strong decided when last season ended that she would move Greenstein exclusively to outside hitter — both for the betterment of the team, and to increase the attention the senior is getting from college coaches.

The transition is off to a good start after Greenstein turned in a good performance in Fontbonne’s, 25–9, 25–15, 25–7, victory over host St. Francis Prep in its league opener on Wednesday. But there is still work to do.

“I wouldn’t say easy,” Greenstein said. “I’m still working and transitioning to a new position. I need a little bit of work, but I think I am solid so far.”

The biggest adjustment is learning to be more patient at the net, waiting for ball to come her way instead of going after it as aggressively as she used to. Greenstein is also learning the position while getting used to two different setters in seniors Bryn Nagel and Gab Breen, who each have their own style.

“She knows that Bryn is going to get her higher and towards the net,” Strong said. “When Gabby is setting her, Gabby is going to come off the net. It is that transition. She wants them both to set her the same, but its not going too.”

Greenstein’s teammates also had to adjust to playing with her a different spot. Her responsibilities have changed and they have to get her the ball in a different spot on the court since sophomore Katie McDonough and Juliana DiSilvia replaced her in the middle. Having Greenstein on the outside long with fellow captain Francesco Castellano creates new problems for opponents.

“It has been hard because she has been playing middle for so long, but I think it is a good transition,” Castellano said. “I’m an outside too so we have two solid hitters on the outside.”

Fontbonne hopes the switch enhances its chances at winning another diocesan title and making a push for a state crown. The Bonnies finished third last year and felt the team could have given more.

“At states we did not show our true selves,” Strong said. “They were upset with themselves not doing well at states.”

It left them hungry to erase that feeling.

“We are extremely motivated to win states,” Greenstein said. “Definitely the primary goal of the team.”

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