By Anna Kayser
Iowa volleyball assistant coach Bre Payton made a big name for herself during her college career, and now she’s doing the same for players similar to her.
Payton was inducted into the University of Northern Iowa Athletics Hall of Fame on Sept. 8.
She played volleyball there from 2008-11, earning MVC Player of the Year and All-American honors for three years. She was also part of four-straight NCAA Tournament teams.
“The team that I was a part of is something that is super important to me and super special, and so I think it’s more than just an honor for me, it’s kind of an honor for the team and just shows how hard we worked and the things that we accomplished,” Payton said.
This is her third season with the Hawkeyes.
Coming from a career as a setter, she specifically works with the Iowa setters and freshman Brie Orr.
In practice, Payton and Orr face off against each other at the net. Payton says this helps push Orr to get better.
“I think a lot of what I did as a player I see in Brie specifically, so I think being able to show her as much as tell her is something that’s pretty cool,” Payton said.
She said that having a tight relationship with her setter is important in building trust and value, and something like being inducted into a major college program’s Hall of Fame is proof that hard work can pay off.
“[Payton] has helped me a lot mentally and physically, like helped me grow as a leader and person and then especially with the volleyball side,” Orr said. “Obviously, she was an amazing setter when she went through college, so she’s teaching me everything she did but also giving me the space to make it my own type of set.”
The most important part of a setter’s role is to be thinking constantly about the way the set is moving and the rhythm she has with her hitters.
Head coach Bond Shymansky has noted that Payton has worked with Orr to think effectively as a competitor.
“Bre’s seen great level volleyball; she’s competed at a high level, she understands how the game moves, and I definitely think she can see what it takes and what’s required to win one point, one point at a time,” Shymansky said. “That’s the impact that she needs to have, that’s why I hired her on our staff, and it’s kind of perfect timing with our younger setter.”
Payton’s role as the setting coach is also to be an offensive coordinator, calling all the plays that will go through the setter’s hands.
“Obviously, she has such great experience as an All-American player and as a coach now, and I think really relishes in the idea of the gamesmanship, and kind of the chess match of what is happening with your opponent,” Shymansky said.
He compares Payton’s role on the team to another sport that happens to play just down the road.
“Football has a quarterback coach; volleyball needs a setting coach, and she’s doing a great job,” Shymansky said.