THE NEXT LEVEL: Marshall native Griffin shining at North Dakota

MARSHALL – Southwestern Minnesota has had its share of talented setters over the years, but only one is currently playing volleyball at the Division I level.

Sydney Griffin, a 2014 Marshall High School graduate, is a junior setter for the University of North Dakota Fighting Hawks.

“I chose North Dakota mainly because I knew I was going to be consistently challenged for the starting position,” Griffin said. “Knowing that I could get that taken from me at any point helps me to keep striving to get better every day in practice.”

Since becoming the team’s starting setter in 2015, she hasn’t let anyone take it from her. Last season, Griffin posted 1,379 set assists, the fourth-most in a single season in UND history.
This year, she has 580 assists entering Thursday night’s match at the University of Idaho. Only one player in the Big Sky Conference has more.

Griffin attributes that to a balanced attack with three different players at middle hitter, allowing for some flexibility if someone is having an off night.

“I am always trying to get my hitters in the best situation possible,” she said. “That includes evaluating what blocker on the other side might be shorter or struggling, which one of my hitters is hot that match, what play is working against the other team’s defense and what plays my other hitters can run to help get my hot hitter a one-on-one or, best-case scenario, no blockers.”

Griffin recorded a career-high 70 assists against Southern Utah last season, but that’s not the match that sticks out in her mind as most memorable of her career. It’s the home match against in-state rival North Dakota State 11 days earlier that Griffin remembers most.

She only had 34 set assists that night, but it was the game environment that sticks with her.

“There were so many fans,” Griffin said. “We swept our rival and I got the chance to play against some of my old club teammates. I am really looking forward to getting the chance to play them again this year down at their place.”

That strong fan support extends to Griffin’s parents – Curtis and Kristy. Their support is greatly appreciated by Sydney.

“I love having them at any match they can make it to and am very fortunate that they are able to travel to some of our away matches as well,” Griffin said. “My team also appreciates when they come because they are the loudest ones in the fan section.”

North Dakota starts a four-game homestand on Thursday against Sacramento State.

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