NASHVILLE, Tenn.-Standing 6-foot-2, Molly Spitznagle is a popular person at family gatherings when the day’s events turn to volleyball.
That’s all right with Spitznagle because her favorite thing to do is to be involved with her large family.
“I only have a sister, but my Dad is one of seven children and my mother is one of seven,” Spitznagle said. “My grandfather is one of 16.
“Volleyball and family is what I focus on. We have a big pond, go-kart track and volleyball net. We go there and have big family parties. Every Sunday we would go to my grandparents’ house.
“We all live about 15 minutes from each other. My family is really important to me.”
Spitznagle, a freshman middle blocker from Lafayette, Ind., is the tallest player on the Lipscomb volleyball team. While she enjoys spending as much time as possible with her family she admits that she really can’t display all of her volleyball talents in such a setting.
“We have a sand volleyball court and everyone is always saying `I’m with Molly’, Spitznagle said. “It is fun, but it is a lot different playing with your family. They can’t pass so it is hard to show off your talents.”
Spitznagle started playing volleyball as a seventh grader and did not player club volleyball until her freshman year. She spent most of her young athletic life on the softball field as a pitcher and first baseman, but the speed of volleyball caught her attention.
“There is scoring on every play,” Spitznagle said. “It is always different. You never know where the block is going to be. You never know where everybody is going to be. It is always a guessing game.”
While admitting she misses her family, Spitznagle is enjoying being in Nashville.
“It is so much different from Indiana and being in a rural area,” Spitznagle said. “Nashville is awesome. There is so much to do. You are never bored here.
“I thought Lafayette was big until I came here. It’s not small, but it’s not Nashville.”
Spitznagle likes being in a big city, but she also enjoys living and going to school on a small campus.
“The campus is exactly what I wanted,” Spitznagle said. “I wanted a small school with small class sizes that is very personal.
“There is just a strong feeling of community and family here. I just knew when I first visited the campus that this was where I was supposed to be. God called me here for sure.”
Spitznagle was forced to undergo back surgery during her junior season. She underwent surgery in November and was back on the court in March. Lipscomb coach Brandon Rosenthal watched Spitznagle perform in her first tournament back with her club team, the Circle City 18 Purple.
“We had heard about Molly for months,” Rosenthal said. “She didn’t play high school or club volleyball for almost six months because of her back injury.
“We had seen her tape on her before the injury, but we didn’t really have a lot to go on. We made an effort to see her right away.”
Rosenthal was impressed by what he saw in Spitznagle’s return to the court.
“Molly has an unbelievable ability to get up in the air quickly,” Rosenthal said. “She has to get used to the speed of the game, not just one day but every day.
“She moves really well. She has the ability. We’re anxious for her to get more and more reps. That is going to be the key for her.”
Rosenthal’s decision to consider Spitznagle, despite her injury, gave him an edge on other schools in the recruiting effort.
“The idea was if she was healthy what could happen,” Rosenthal said. “We made an offer to her very early.
“I had the idea that more and more coaches were anxious to see her and I was right. I made arrangements for her to visit here right away. She committed on her trip. It was a fun victory for us and for her.”
During her time in recovery and rehab Spitznagle wondered if she would ever play volleyball again. Not only did she return, but she was part of the Circle City 18 Purple team that earned a spot in the U.S.A. Volleyball Girls Junior National Championships.
“It was one of the hardest things I have done,” Spitznagle said. “The doctor that performed the surgery said it might work and it might not work.
“Rehab had a lot to do with it. I worked really hard. It was really painful. Hopefully, it won’t mess up any more. It is a challenge every time I get on the court, but it is a challenge that I like.”
Written by Mark McGee, Senior Publisher/Director of Media Relations.