Trainers kept busy with All-Area teamIt was a season of could-have-beens for local volleyball teams. Superior lost Player of the Year Jessica Lindstrom to illness late in the season, and the Northwestern Tigers played half their matches without a pair of injured top players.
By: Emily Kram, Superior Telegram
It was a season of could-have-beens for local volleyball teams. Superior lost Player of the Year Jessica Lindstrom to illness late in the season, and the Northwestern Tigers played half their matches without a pair of injured top players.
But despite the setbacks, the players still found a way to shine.
Joining Lindstrom on this year’s Superior Telegram All-Area Volleyball team are three seniors and two juniors.
Also nominated were Superior senior Alex Olsen, Solon Springs senior Valerie Garay and Solon Springs freshman Phoenix Thomas.
For the first half of the season, senior Connilyn Hursh was a leader for the Northwestern High School volleyball team.
In the second half of the season, Hursh was forced to watch her teammates from the sidelines.
“Unfortunately, about halfway through the season Connilyn dislocated her shoulder and could not play for the remainder of the season,” said Tanya Amys, head coach of the Tigers.
Hursh played in only about half of the Tigers’ matches for the season. She finished with 62 kills and a .15 kill efficiency as an outside hitter. Hursh also had 20 service aces and a 1.92 serve receive average.
Defensively, Hursh added 41 digs for Northwestern.
“At the rate at which Connilyn was progressing, I truly believe she would have more than doubled those stats if she would have been able to participate for the entire season,” Amys said. “Connilyn has shown great dedication and passion for the game of volleyball.
“Connilyn was offensively able to get to many sets that other players would not be able to reach. Connilyn learned to adjust to the ball and became more aggressive with her placement as the season progressed. She was someone that we could count on as a team to kill the ball or at least keep it in play.”
Hursh was named the Tigers’ most valuable player this season.
Amys said the senior was a “great example for all of her teammates on the court, in the classroom and in life in general.”
The future looks bright the Solon Springs Eagles behind the leadership of Ashley Johnson. The junior outside hitter played a key role for Solon Springs this season and provided the Eagles with an ace in the hole.
“Ashley led our team in kills and aces and was our most consistent player all season,” said Eagles coach Marcus Besonen.
Johnson averaged about 2.5 kills per game and one ace serve per game this season.
She was the lone Solon Springs player to receive Indianhead Conference All-Conference honors, earning a place on the second team.
Alie Larson was only able to play half a season for the Tigers due to injury, but the senior made every game count at middle blocker.
Through the first half of the season, Larson amassed 48 kills and 26 service aces for the Tigers.
“Alie has shown incredible improvement throughout the season,” Amys said. “After a short time she became very confident in her abilities and in her team.”
The senior became a reliable blocker for the Tigers, Amys said, finishing with seven solo block kills and seven assisted block kills.
“If she wasn’t able to fully block the ball she was able to drive the direction of the ball upwards so that we were able to make a play,” Amys said.
“She learned to read the court and did a great job of placing the ball when she wasn’t able to attack it.”
Larson, one of the Tigers’ team captains, was named to the Heart O’ North Conference All-Conference team as an honorable mention selection.
“Alie worked hard at being a positive captain,” Amys said. “She easily became down on herself but realized the effect that had on the team and rose above her emotions to be encouraging and supportive.”
When Lindstrom was sidelined late in the season, junior Ellen Stromgren was one of the players who stepped up for the Spartans.
“She is a great leader, shows maturity and leads with a positive attitude,” Spartan coach Mike Patenaude said.
Stromgren, an outside hitter, was a junior captain for the Spartans this season.
She averaged 1.6 kills per game to finish the season with 81 and had a 93.2 serve percentage. The junior also had 19 ace serves for the Spartans and 54 total digs — 1.5 per game.
“She sets a great example for our younger players and is respected by all,” Patenaude said. “Look for Ellen to be a real force on the 2013 Spartans volleyball team.”
Alison Wainionpaa directed Superior’s offense this year at setter. She led the team in set assists but also contributed on defense.
“Alison was a force on the court for us this season making all of our on-court decisions,” Patenaude said.
Wainionpaa, a senior captain, finished the year with 406 total set assists, an average of 5.6 per game. She also contributed 63 total blocks for Superior.
“She is one of the best blocking setters in the area,” Patenaude said.
Wainionpaa was named to the Lake Superior Conference All-Conference second team this season.