Mayo, Century serious threats in 2022 volleyball season
The Mayo and Century volleyball teams both look like candidates to have big seasons this year.
Head coach: Nichelle Guillaume. Assistants: Mikala Hora, Kortnie Bailey, Jessica Stellmaker, Lauren Kudronowicz.
Last year: 8-2 Big Nine, 20-10 overall. Lost 3-0 to Lakeville North in Section 1AAAA semifinals.
Top returners: Sr. middle hitter Paige Decker (all-state, 312 kills, 49 blocks, 119 digs); Sr. middle hitter Elise Jensen (all-Big Nine, 177 kills, 25 blocks); Jr. setter Megan Lund (all-Big Nine, 770 assists, 232 digs, 33 aces); Jr. libero Kaitlyn Meincke (all-Big Nine, 486 digs, 25 aces).
Outlook: Things look great for Century, which finished 20-10 last year and figures to take another jump this season. The Panthers return some serious talent, with middle hitters Paige Decker and Elise Jensen both all-conference last year, setter Megan Lund all-conference and libero Kaitlyn Meincke all-conference. The ultra-athletic Decker was also named all-state, with her 312 kills last season. Offense should be a major strength for Century. “This year we are lucky to have a lot of returners; most of these girls are on their third or fourth year of varsity,” Century coach Nichelle Guillaume said. “Offensively, we will be strong and able to be successful. We are continuing to work on strengthening our defense and getting our setter in a good spot to take the second ball.”
Head coach: Deb Frederick. Assistants: Emily Ellson, Sara Dresler, Laura Priebe, JoJo Muenkel.
Last year: 11-0 Big Nine, 20-10 overall. Lost 3-0 in the Section 1AAAA final to eventual state tournament team Lakeville North.
Top returners: Sr. setter Hannah Hanson (all-Big Nine, 286 kills, 336 assists, 42 blocks, 207 digs); Sr. middle blocker Maria Winter (all-Big Nine, 194 digs, 58 aces, 178 kills); Sr. outside hitter Madi Meyer (all-Big Nine); Jr. setter Jadyn Lester (all-Big Nine, 429 assists, 28 blocks, 202 digs, 133 kills); Jr. middle hitter Gabby Burrow; Jr. middle blocker Ava Miller.
Outlook: The Spartans won the Big Nine Conference a year ago with virtually the same team that they have now. So, hopes are high. Mayo has one of the best athletes and volleyball players in southeastern Minnesota in senior setter Hannah Hanson, who will play college Division II volleyball next year. Middle blocker Maria Winter, outside hitter Madi Meyer and setter Jadyn Lester were all-Big Nine players like Hanson last year and all return. “We have experience on the court and our strength is having athletes who can compete,” Mayo coach Deb Frederick said. “We have a new libero for us, Alexa Carlstrom. We look forward to watching her compete and progress in her new role on varsity. We will continue to work on team culture and being composed and great competitors in all matches.”
Head coach: Lauren Larson. Assistants: Laurie Bowlin, Sarah Walker.
Last year: 0-9 HVL, 3-18 overall. Lourdes lost 3-1 in the first round of the Section 1AA playoffs.
Top returners: Sr. outside hitter Lindsey Rossow (honorable-mention all-HVL, 35 aces, 200 kills, 164 digs); Sr. outside hitter Vivica Bretton (honorable-mention all-HVL, 135 kills, 190 digs).
Outlook: Lourdes is feeling much better about itself as it heads into this season. There are a couple of top players on this roster in seniors Lindsey Rossow (outside hitter) and Vivica Bretton (outside hitter). The Eagles went winless in the HVL last year. But don’t expect a repeat of that. They have experience this season as well as talent. “We put in a lot of work over the summer, and our girls have shown a lot of improvement,” Lourdes coach Lauren Larson said. “We will be more experienced this season, but also bring some new talent to our lineup that I’m very excited about. We’ll have a number of tough conference matches as always, but I’m hopeful we will be much more competitive in them this season.”
JOHN MARSHALL ROCKETS
Head coach: Bailey Brand. Assistant: Adria King, Chayse Paulson, Cassandra Cummings.
Last year: 3-8 Big Nine, 10-15 overall. Lost 3-0 in the Section 1AAAA first round to eventual state tournament team Lakeville North.
Top returners: Jr. outside hitter Elena Rietveld; Jr. outside hitter/middle blocker Addy Timpane; Jr. setter Bailey Glandon.
Outlook: The Rockets have a new coach, though she is a familiar face. Bailey Brand replaces Jessica Stellmaker, who stepped down at the end of last season. The 21-year-old Brand is a former player of Stellmaker’s at JM and then was her assistant coach. She inherits a team that was 10-15 overall last season and lost some key players, including star hitter Lilly Meister. JM has some strong outside hitters and an athletic front row. What the Rockets are concentrating on most is their defense. “This year will be a season of growth and learning,” Brand said. “With a tough conference like the Big Nine, winning the conference title may not be our most achievable goal, but we will be taking it one point at a time, staying disciplined to get the job done. Our coaching staff is focusing on teaching the athletes to play smarter and with a purpose, and learning how to be a tough team mentally.”
SCHAEFFER ACADEMY LIONS
Head coach: Kate Lanners. Assistants: Rich Harris.
Last year: 2-11 Southeast Conference, 2-17 overall. Lost 3-0 to Randolph in the first round of the Section 1A playoffs.
Top returners: Sr. outside hitter Kate Friese; Jr. middle hitter Thea Bothun; Fr. setter/middle hitter Blythe Morgan.
Outlook: Schaeffer graduated a host of seniors from last year’s team, meaning the Lions have a new look now. The Lions have had a solid start in two areas — serving and serve reception. But there is still plenty to work on in other areas. “After graduating several seniors last season, we are excited to add some new players to the lineup this year,” Schaeffer first-year coach Kate Lanners said. “The team has started out strong in both serving and serve reception. We are working to improve our blocking and overall defense as the season progresses.”
— Compiled by Pat Ruff • Post Bulletin