The 5-foot-7 libero stands a few feet behind the service line and tosses the ball seemingly a mile up into space. Then, she jumps in the air, powers through the ball with her arm fully extended and sends the ball to the opposite side of the net, falling in for another ace.
That’s what Elon University sophomore Morgan Maner’s forceful jump topspin serve looks like. She’s always working on perfecting that, but she’s also been engaged recently in mastering the jump float to add to her arsenal.
“I’m trying to increase my variety so I can do topspin and float,” Maner said. “I’ve been working on it a lot in practice.”
In an effort to have something to offset that fast, powerful serve, Maner’s been going with the float for much of this season. A float serve has no spin, making it difficult for opponents to pick up.
When it comes down to it, the whole tactic is about building consistency.
“She’s pretty good at both. We’re trying to find a consistent serve for her,” Elon head coach Mary Tendler said. “I think her jump float right now is a little more consistent. Once she gets that down, we’ll probably have her do a jump spin at times, kind of go back and forth.”
Through 14 games, Maner has just four aces to 24 service errors, but has executed well at numerous times. In a sweep over North Carolina A&T State University on Sept. 17, Maner effectively switched between serving short and long — both with the float — which helped Elon shut down the Aggies’ passing game.
“She can be effective whatever she does,” Tendler said, “but the important thing is we want to score points in her rotation serving. She’s been a little better at it lately.”
It’s a work in progress that she’ll continue to toy with, but Maner doesn’t mind.
“Serving’s my favorite aspect of the game,” Maner said. “As long as I’m on the service line, I’m happy.”