Trying to get involved in volleyball as a young boy in Idaho can be difficult, but it did not stop Idaho senior Tanner Haage from falling in love with the game during junior high.
The Grangeville community did not provide Haage with many opportunities to play the game â€” he instead spent most of his time playing on the sand courts of his community. Grangeville soon created its own indoor club team, and Haage said he began to find a passion for the sport.
Haage said setting was where he felt the most comfortable, after trying out every position on the floor.Â The senior has been setting on the Idaho menâ€™s club volleyball team since he joined the program last year.
Haage began his college career at Lewis-Clark State College, where he found a mentor in one of the womenâ€™s volleyball coaches. Together, they created a recruiting video in an attempt for Haage to play collegiate volleyball.
â€œShe told me that the club scene is just as competitive as the NCAA, without paying the $13,000 in tuition,â€ Haage said.
Senior Wesley Sjoerdsma said Haage has had a major impact for the team during the past two seasons.
â€œHeâ€™s very quiet and heâ€™s very reserved, but he also loves the sport,â€ Sjoerdsma said. â€œYou see his biggest contribution come out in the energy output he gives in a specific moment, like bigger plays.â€
Sjoerdsma said Haage has been able to make plays for the Vandals both offensively and defensively.
â€œTanner is a pure setter, he always has been,â€ Sjoerdsma said. â€œHeâ€™s a very athletic setter. He has a very good sense of the court and heâ€™s a defense reader. Before he sets the ball he kind of sees where the defense is at and then makes a decision on where he wants to put the ball.â€
Haage said because he is the only one that touches the ball every play, he is constantly trying to look past the pressure.
â€œAll five of them are dependent on what Iâ€™m going to do,â€ Haage said. â€œI try to let myself know that itâ€™s only one point at a time and Iâ€™ll go from there.â€
Haage said one of the things he will miss most about the program is the feeling of competition.
â€œThereâ€™s a weird feeling â€” when you get deep into a game and youâ€™re all playing really well â€” thereâ€™s almost a high you get from just playing at that top level and having guys that can just crush the ball,â€ Haage said.
The setter will be graduating in the spring of 2017, but said he will not be using his final year of eligibility with the club team. Instead, Haage will be pursuing a career in professional volleyball in Europe.
â€œItâ€™s given me a lot of experience,â€ Haage said. â€œI have certainly enjoyed myself here.â€
Mihaela Karst can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org