With her dark-framed glasses and quiet demeanor, Erie volleyball standout Savannah Mettler gives off a calm, studious air on the court.
That makes her a perfect leader for a Cardinal squad that is aiming high after enjoying consecutive Class 1A regional titles and a Three Rivers Conference co-championship in the last two seasons.
What's more, the school year's first Area Pacesetter for The Dispatch and The Rock Island Argus has the physical ability to go with her mental attributes. All were on display as she helped lead Erie to first place at last Saturday's Galena Tournament, earning a place on the All-Tournament squad alongside junior teammate Rachel Cobert.
"She's a very smart player, a student of the game,'' Erie coach Alicia Murphy said of her senior outside hitter, who collected 27 kills, 37 digs and a pair of service aces in five matches at Galena as the Cardinals (4-1-1) won four times and tied with the host Pirates, edging them on points for first place.
"Savannah will pick up on things I might not see, or that her teammates might not see, and she is always letting everyone know what is going on. She can be very much vocal, but doesn't show a lot of emotion on the court -- always cool, calm and collected.''
Mettler thinks that keeping her emotions in check when on the floor acts as a tonic for her Cardinals, particularly during tough spots in a tightly contested match.
"I don't get too excited out there,'' she admitted. "That helps to calm down my teammates, and keeps them from getting too mad or down on themselves, or getting too excited when there's still a lot of game left.''
Taking on a new role as a team leader for the Redbirds, Mettler believes her role is primarily to help her younger teammates mesh on a veteran-laden squad, still letting herself be pushed and inspired by her fellow Cards.
"Coach always says all spots are open, so I can't take my spot for granted. That makes me work even harder,'' said Mettler. "The younger ones are still learning things, so I feel like I have to push them as much as I can, while having them push me. On the court, my role is pretty much the same, but if there's a rough spot, it's more my responsibility to get the team back on its feet.''
That included helping Erie regroup after a season-opening loss to fellow area powerhouse Orion last Tuesday.
"Coming off the success of last year, we have some big roles to step into,'' she said. "I thought we played very well at Galena. One match doesn't define our season.''
A three-year varsity performer for Murphy's Cardinals, Mettler also has three seasons of varsity softball under her belt, and has been a key player in the resurgence of the Erie-Prophetstown softball co-op, especially this past spring when they won 25 games and battled Morrison for the Three Rivers North Division title.
Having gotten used to success in both sports -- she was also a key player for the Erie spikers last fall when they went 28-8-1 and shared the TRAC North title with Sterling Newman -- Mettler knows the stakes are much higher this season.
"We definitely have big expectations for this year,'' she stated. "After two regional titles, and beating the state champs (Rockford Keith) in a game last year at sectionals, we're definitely hungry to have a great season. We want to go far.''
Area Pacesetter -- Erie's Savannah Mettler
Favorite food: Chili Favorite movies: Taken, parts 1 and 2 Favorite TV show: "Criminal Minds" Favorite music: Country Favorite school subject: History Favorite sport: Volleyball Role model: "My dad. He worked really hard to earn a scholarship in golf (to the University of Arizona), and that led me to sports; he was the one that really got me into softball, especially.'' Parents: Eric and Amy Mettler, Erie IN THE RUNNING: Rachel Cobert, Erie: Earned All-Tournament kudos at the Galena tourney with 28 kills, 31 digs, eight aces and four blocks as the Cardinals went 4-0-1 to capture first place. Tanner Litton, Annawan-Wethersfield: Ran for two touchdowns and threw for two more in the Titans' 42-21 opening-night win over Farmington. Dylan Binion, Erie-Prophetstown: Binion rushed for 191 yards and two touchdowns in the Panthers' 45-19 opening victory over Kewanee. Agustin Miranda, Monmouth-Roseville: Had two goals and an assist in a victory over Illini Bluffs, then tallied six goals in five games as the Titans took third at the Oregon Tournament. Nathan Kelly, Sherrard: Rushed for 166 yards and two touchdowns in the Tigers' 20-3 opening-night win over Riverdale.
Today is Friday, Sept. 19, the 262nd day of 2014. There are 103 days left in the year. 1864 -- 150 years ago: Charles M. Osborn of this city, a lawyer of prominence, who voted for Lincoln in 1860 is now out strong for McClellan and will take the stump for him. 1889 -- 125 years ago: The George Fleming company had begun its dried fruit packing in a branch plant on 16th Street, Rock Island, employing nearly a hundred workers. 1914 -- 100 years ago: The cornerstone of the new Eagles home was laid. Building committee members were John Kobeman, Fred Ehmke and Frank Wich. 1939 -- 75 years ago: Former Kaiser Wilhelm, in exile, is sad as the Nazis march with communists. 1964 -- 50 years ago: Ninety-two members of the acappella choir at Davenport's West High School today accepted an invitation to perform at the New York World's Fair on June 13, 1965. 1989 -- 25 years ago: A Rock Island woman is one of 50 winners of $10,000 in cash in the Illinois State Lottery's "Celebration "89" instant ticket game. Dawn Loeffler was the third winner to be chosen through daily drawings that began Aug. 28 and will run 50 consecutive days.