Northern Star: Emily (Torve) Balts
For this week's segment, we feature the setter of the UMD volleyball team.
DULUTH, Minn. – If you’ve been to a UMD volleyball game over the past few years, you probably heard Emily Torve’s name blast through the speakers. But this year, she’s got a new name, as she married former football standout Jason Balts over the summer.
“We just met through athletes in action, which is a bible study on campus for athletes which was just a very natural place for both of us to be, and obviously it was life changing. I didn’t expect that coming in to UMD,” Balts said of her meeting Jason.
While the name has changed, one thing has always stayed the same: Balts has been the setter for the Bulldogs for the past four years and has constantly been reliable for her hitters.
“She’s super helpful in anything that anyone needs as a hitter on any other position,” senior right side hitter and co-captain Hanna Meyer said.
“She’s extremely good at controlling location and tempo and that comes with all of the time you’ve spent, repetition after repetition and getting the feedback. There’s absolutely an expectation that when she’s about to set the ball, this is when I have to leave because this is when it’s going to be where,” head coach Jim Boos said.
Giving her hitters that comfort has come over time. Balts has been with the program for five years, and received a redshirt during her freshmen season.
“That first year was really important for me. I got to learn under Ashley Hinch who was an amazing setter. Just to be able to watch from the sidelines and watch at practice and all those things, it kind of took the pressure off to just learn,” Balts said.
Since then, she’s proved to be a leader on and off the court, becoming one of the team captains this year.
“It didn’t feel like a huge change. I’ve been out there for the past few years and I’ve been expected to be a leader in that position, that’s what the role of that position is,” Balts said of the relationship between the setter position and being a captain.
“We have different ways of leading and different personalities, but at the same time we both agree on the same things and have similar attitudes on our love for the game and our competition,” Meyer added.
Now, she’s mentoring the newest UMD setter, Madison Gordon, and helping her learn the game, just like Balts did when she redshirted.
“There’s some that gets done by voice and by leading her and talking about things. But some of it’s just watching her do it and seeing what Emily does in order to be successful, and gives Maddy someone to kind of emulate and look up to and try to do the things Emily does to be successful,” Boos said.
Balts ranks first among all Division II setters in career assists and assists per sets, and has racked up multiple conference and national awards.
As she prepares the next generation of Bulldogs setters, Balts knows that she’s left her legacy during her five years at UMD.
“I chose this program because of the coaching staff, I loved what they stood for and I just loved the program that UMD athletics had built. So looking back, it’s been nothing less than I expected and everything more that I expected,” Balts said.