IPFW men's volleyball junior libero Kolbie Knorr, a transfer from Quincy, has boosted the team's ball-handling and passing en route to an 18-10 regular season record and a No. 5-seed heading into the MIVA Tournament at Lewis on Saturday.
“He's brought a lot of energy, a lot of spirit, a lot of experience playing the libero spot,” head coach Ryan Perrotte said. “A really steady hand in the back court for us so he's improved our ball handling and our ball skills so he's been very, very important especially in this conference. If you don't have the ball skills, it's very difficult to win.”
Growing up, Knorr participated in track, football, soccer, hockey, basketball, among other sports, before trying volleyball on a co-ed team in middle school in Wheaton, Illinois.
“I just had the most fun playing volleyball,” he said. “I kind of did those other sports because that's what everyone in my neighborhood did. They played basketball and volleyball hit a chord with me, and so I stuck with it.”
Knorr earned the MIVA defensive player of the week as a sophomore at Quincy after double-digit dig performances against Culver-Stockton, Ball State and IPFW.
The performance was stuck in the minds of the Mastodon coaching staff when Knorr approached them to inquire about transferring.
“Last year, he was one of the top liberos in our conference and what he did to us at their place when we played in five sets, he was remarkable,” Perrotte said.
“When he contacted us that he was going to leave Quincy, whatever his reasons were, I talked with (assistant coach) JW (Kieckhefer) about it and he and I looked at each other and said he'd be a great addition to Fort Wayne volleyball.”
The Mastodons were swept 3-0 in both matches this year against Lewis, but Knorr feels the team is peaking at the right time and has ironed out the details, particularly serving and passing.
“We haven't taken a set off them all season, but I think that's more been about what we've done on our side of the net,” he said.
“We didn't pass great those games, I don't think we hit that well or served that well. Passing and serving has been preached all year. In order to make up for size, we're not the biggest team, we have to pass and serve well and we've been stressing that all week in practice so I think it'll finally come together.
“If we can pass and serve the ball well, we have a really good chance at winning.”
With regular-season wins against then-No. 3 UC-Irvine and then-No. 14 Concordia-Irvine, IPFW should feel confident.
“It just proves to us that if we play good volleyball, there's no one we can't beat,” junior Michael Keegan said. “Lewis isn't any better than they were and we can take them, why can't we take Lewis? It helps us validate that what we're doing is right and that's a good feeling and hopefully it carries over to this weekend.”