Fillmore County still boasts at least five athletes playing volleyball at the next level. Heading the cast is 2014 Mabel-Canton graduate Belle Sand. The 5’6” senior is in her fourth year at Division I Syracuse University. She is the Orange’s top libero/defensive specialist. Through 29 games, Sand easily leads the squad with 396 digs. She is second in the ACC in digs per set (4.30), fourth in total digs. Syracuse (9-7, 17-12 overall) has four ACC games left (as of November 14). A 1,000-dig prep athlete, Sand topped 1,000 digs at the college level as a junior. She currently sits at 1,429. With a good finish to her senior year, she will likely post back-to-back-to-back 400 dig campaigns. Career-wise, she is fourth all-time in Orange history in digs, and probably will finish third. Ex-Cougar teammate Sara Lind just finished her senior year (career) at St. Mary’s University in Winona. The 5’11” MH had a team third-best 157 kills and a team second-best 52 total blocks. For her career, Lind finished with 479 kills, having amassed at least 133 sophomore through seniors years. The Cardinals finished the year 6-5 in the MIAC (7th place), 15-13 overall. St. Mary’s didn’t make the six team MIAC play-offs. Having an even more stand-out season in the MIAC was 2015 Fillmore Central graduate Morgan Malley. She began her first year as full-time setter for Augsburg with an early MIAC Athlete of the Week, and ended it by being named All-MIAC and AVCA All-Central Region HM. She’s the third girl off FC’s 2013 state runner-up to be named All-Conference in college (Taylor Case, Tori Peterson). The 5’8” junior was second in the MIAC in assists (1,185) and assists-per set (10.68). Nationally for Division III, Malley ranked ninth in total assists and tenth in assists per set (as of November 14). A 3,000-assist setter in high school, Malley is over 1,800 through three years of college. She also led the Augies in aces (32), was third in digs (339) while chipping in 113 kills and 46 total blocks. The former two-sport All-State selection had triple-doubles versus Whitworth (12 kills, 58 assists, 14 digs), and Bethel (10 kills, 44 assists, 16 digs). She had 40-plus assists 17 times and 50 assists three times. Malley also had double-digit digs 17 times. She is the daughter of current FC volleyball coach Travis Malley and wife Melissa. Tayah Barnes, a 2017 FC graduate, completed her true freshman year for the Augies. The 5’5” DS played in 29 of 31 matches, 107 of 119 sets. Barnes amassed a team fourth-best 274 digs, hitting double digits 15 times. Malley and Barnes were two of seven Augies to play in more than 100 total sets. Augsburg finished the season 7-4 in the MIAC (fourth place tie), 19-12 overall. They were the 6-seed (of six) in the MIAC play-offs, upsetting 3-seed Gustavus 3-1 in the quarters. Malley had 50 assists and 21 digs. In the semis, the Augies fell to 2-seed St. Benedict 3-2. Malley had 41 assists and 23 digs. Playing at Division I UNC-Asheville is Chatfield graduate (2016) Sheridan Salisbury. The 5’9” sophomore defensive specialist played in 89 of 99 total sets. Salisbury tallied 147 digs and a team third-best 30 aces. The Bulldogs went 9-7 in the Big South regular season, their most wins since 2010. They are 13-14 overall going into the Big South Tournament.
*All TRC stats used courtesy of Bill Bentson.