Cutler brings the heat for the PanthersPublished 5:23pm Saturday, September 7, 2013
PINETOWN — The guessing game is out of the equation. When opposing net players see the set rise up in the air towards Northside’s Alexandria Cutler they know what they’re in for the same way baseball players do when they dig into the box to face Justin Verlander. The heat’s coming, the only question is can you handle it.
“I like hard hitting,” Cutler says. “I don’t ever tip.”
The Panthers six-foot senior outside hitter has been screaming spikes over the net since she was a freshman, and Northside’s first-year coach Barry Boyd said with a fastball like Cutler’s there’s no need to call for a changeup.
“If she gets a good set and moves in from that outside position over the course of a game the girls on the other side of the net are going to begin to start ducking,” Boyd said.
Like Verlander, Cutler seems to get better as the game goes on. During the Panthers five-set win over Pamlico on Tuesday, Cutler was a force in the tiebreaker as she routinely pounded kills across the net to spearhead Northside’s victory.
“She’s our main offensive weapon,” Boyd said.
The gutsy Hurricanes’ net players may not have been ducking Cutler’s spikes, but it’s a safe bet a few left with sore hands.
Cutler is able to generate power on her kills by starting way outside the out-of-bounds line to get momentum as she approaches the set.
“I come out really far,” Cutler said. “I’m really tall so I take really big steps in when I’m going for the ball.”
On top of being a threat at the net, Cutler is also a big presence in the locker room.
“Not only is she an outstanding player and a strong outside hitter, but she exhibits leadership on the court too,” Boyd said. “She helps keep the team together and focused.
“(Against Pamlico) the game could have gone either way in the final set and she was out there keeping people straight.”
A versatile player, Cutler also racks up points from the baseline thanks to her jump-serve, something that is rare on the high school level.
Cutler said she began the practice a few years ago because she feels it’s harder for opposing players to handle.
“I learned to do the jump serve during my sophomore year. I just found it more effective,” Cutler said. “For me, it puts a lot of top-spin on the ball so it’s harder to dig up.”
Her six-foot frame makes her a tremendous defensive presence at the net, but the athletic Cutler’s soft hands enables her to play the back row as well.
“She does a good job on defense,” Boyd said. “She’s quick to get to the ball and quick to pop it up into the air so that the setter can get it to back to her or one of the other hitters.”
Last year, under the guidance coach Tami Wagaman, the Panthers were able to get to the playoffs and earn and first round victory and Boyd said that in order for them to get back to the postseason Cutler must continue to provide points and leadership.
“She pretty much just has to maintain and help me bring these other girls along in terms of developing their hitting skills and defensive skills. If we can do that we’re going to be tough to beat,” Boyd said.