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Volleyball players of the year


Fri, Nov 16th, 2012
Posted in All Sports

By Paul Trende

For the second straight year, there was a heaping-helping of good volleyball being played by Fillmore County teams. Four of the six schools, Chatfield, Rushford-Peterson, Fillmore Central, and Mabel-Canton, made it to, or exceeded, 20 wins. The Gophers and Cougars played in Sub-Section title games. Had Section 1 not arguably been the best in the state (Class A produced 6 of the 22 All-State VB players and Faribault B.A. won the A crown, Class AA produced 6 of the 20 All-State VB players and Caledonia was AA runner-up), any of the above four teams could’ve made lengthier post-season runs.

As it were though, each had great seasons that ended earlier than each wanted. As could be expected, there wasn’t a shortage of good players. And thus, with the help of all the county coaches, assistants, and statisticians, and a huge helping hand from 3-Rivers Conference statistician Bill Bentson (and thus the 3-Rivers statistical numbers and rankings), here is the 2nd annual; Volleyball Players of the Year.

First Six

Heading the cast is Rushford-Peterson’s athletic powerhouse Amy Todd (5’9” senior MH). Todd didn’t get All-State honors, like three other county players. But no player shouldered as heavy a load for their team as Todd for the Trojans. Best example of this; her Three Rivers Conference leading 501 kills was more than the rest of her teammates combined, plus 100. She also led the 3-Rivers in aces (81) and would’ve been first in blocks too (64.5) had Caledonia not made a run to state where Maria Fruechte (73) and Emma Lange (65) both surpassed her. Other feats; Todd became only the second R-P Trojan to amass over 1,000 career kills (ended with over 1,300). She twice went over 30 kills in a game in 5-set affairs with Chatfield and Spring Grove. She ended her career with a six-match (24 sets), 143-kill stretch (a 6-per-game clip). Finishing things, Todd was second on the Trojans with 312 digs (one of three girls in the conference with 300-plus kills and 300-plus digs). She was R-P’s everywhere girl, a ‘beast’ in the words of her setter Emily Wade’s mom (Kathy). It’d be tough to imagine, if Todd weren’t on the floor, just how many wins the Trojans would’ve had; probably not a school record 22. Amy finishes her career a two-time All-league player, a two-time honorable mention All-league player.

Chatfield libero Alex Duxbury (5’6” junior libero) had another standout season. Her dig numbers (436) dropped some from 2011 (528). Duxbury is so good, teams just stopped, or tried not to whenever possible, hit it towards her. Yet, Alex was still third in the 3-Rivers in digging behind R-P’s Kendra Crawford (479) and St. Charles’ Kelsi Bockenhauer (437). For the second consecutive year, she was also one of the best ace servers in the conference, finishing third (63) to Todd (81) and Lange (64).

The place teams couldn’t stop hitting it to Alex was on the serve. Duxbury’s 703 receptions easily led the 3-Rivers and her reception percentage was top 5. She was a diving and rolling passer-extraordinaire, a critical volleyball skill. The daughter of a volleyball coach, she’s definitely predisposed to playing the game at a high level. For the second straight season, she was All-Conference and (Class AA) All-State. She was Chatfield’s encouraging on-court captain and leader.

Fillmore Central’s rangy Taylor Case (5’11” junior OH) continued her great play in 2012. With Alex Peterson gone, Taylor shouldered a heavier offensive load for the Falcons. That was a very good thing for FC fans. Her 348 kills ranked her 5th in the 3-Rivers conference (she was oddly the only player in the 300-range). Only Todd (501), W-K’s Katie Cavalco (449), Fruechte (443), and Lange (405) amassed more (topped 300). It put Taylor in great company, or among the five girls whose attacking abilities were head and shoulders above everyone else in the conference.

Twenty-eight kills was her season high in a big 5-set win over rival Chatfield. Then there were Taylor’s all-around abilities. She (348/328) joined Todd (501/312) and Cavalco (449/322) as the only three players in the league with 300+ kills and 300+ digs. Taylor also led the league in serve receive percentage (erred on only 7 of 248) and served herself at over a 90 percent clip, while leading FC with 39 aces. Her exploits were so impressive; she was (Class A) Honorable Mention All-State (to go along with All-Conference). Case was the Falcons volleyball ace.

Mabel-Canton’s graceful aerial gazelle Belle Sand (5’7” junior OH) continued to be the Southeast conference’s pre-eminent player, racking up her 3rd consecutive Player of the Year award (All-Conference). She also, for a third time, was Honorable Mention All-State. Like Case, Sand was in the 300-300 club amassing 352 kills and 354 digs (each led the Cougars). Her numbers dropped a little from sophomore year, but only because M-C had a much more balanced and experienced overall team. It wasn’t because Belle slacked.

Sand competed wo-mano-e-wo-mano against the likes of Caledonia’s 1st team All-State dominant duo, Fruechte and Lange, and helped the Cougars to a huge Sub-Section semifinal comeback victory over All-State HM Case and the Falcons. That’s impressive cause she gives up one of the two things you can’t teach in sports, size. Belle is at least 4-inches shorter than the above great players but comparatively proficient. It was as almost a super-great individual season for Sand. In late September, she reached the 1,000-dig plateau (finished with 1,148, or within reach of Jenni Aasum’s school record of 1,594). She’ll have to wait to reach the 1,000-kill plateau too until next year as she came up two short (998 for her career). Sand, with her hops and quick swing, was M-C’s best volleyball hand.

Setting up Sand most of the time was the incomparable Carly McCabe (5’4” junior setter). McCabe orchestrated M-C’s Sub-Section runner-up attack, racking up 823 assists (which in the 3-Rivers would’ve ranked 3rd behind ultra-talented contemporaries W-K’s Kalyn Biever and Caledonia’s Taylor Winjim). One of those assists put McCabe over 1,000 for her career. She now sits at 1,790.

When she wasn’t serving it up for others, she was precisely or blindly doing things herself. Carly dropped or pushed in 137 setter-attack kills (which would’ve led 3-Rivers conference amongst ‘pure’ setters). Like most great (well-coached) players, McCabe was well rounded. She was the Cougars second best (high volume) server percentage-wise (94.5). She ranked third on the team in digs (248) behind Sand (354) and libero Christine Lee (316). Exactly 200 digs will get her to the 1,000-dig threshold next year. McCabe was the impassioned leader of M-C’s 31-win team, an All-SEC 1st team selection.

Joining Alex Duxbury, to form a formidable back-row, one that kept the Gophers competitive almost everywhere, was Kirsten Keefe (5’7” sophomore OH/DS). K-squared’s precision versatility was rare in the 3-Rivers conference. She was 6th in the league with 351 digs. Her serve-receive percentage (95 percent) was #2 in the league to Case. Kirsten effectively put 476 of 499 back into play, or twice the volume as Case with nearly the same proficiency. She also served at a 96 percent clip (tied for 5th in the league), hitting on 357 of 372 with 44 aces. And when the frontline occasionally called, she could power down the kill too, notching 109 spikes. Keefe was effective from pretty much everyone, an All-Conference selection.

Second Six

•Kendra Crawford (R-P, 5’6” junior libero): led the 3-Rivers conference in digs with 479. Saw the second highest volume of serves-received (563). Led the Trojans (main) servers at 93.7 percent. All-Conference.

•Morgan Malley (FC, 5’8” sophomore setter): recorded her 1,000th career assist in a win over Chatfield. Ranked third in 3-Rivers with 747 assists. Malley’s 209 digs was second amongst 3-Rivers setters to only Kalyn Biever. All-Conference.

> Cheyenne Losey (Kingsland, 5’11” senior OH): led the Knights in three big statistical categories; kills (220), blocks (58), and aces (34). Her 220 spikes was 8th in the 3-Rivers and the 58 blocks was 4th. Losey finishes her career a two-time 1st team All 3-Rivers selection.

•Jessi Kaster (Kingsland 5’10” senior MH): led the Knights with 336 digs (7th in league) and was second on the team in kills (177) and blocks (50.5). She was very versatile, though shined the most on defense. Finishes her career a two-time Honorable Mention All-league player.

•Lydia Geving (M-C, 5’8” junior OH): led Cougars with 76 aces (her knuckle-ball serve was not fun for opponents to handle), becoming the all-time Cougar leader in that category. Amassed 191 kills (2nd on the team) and 203 digs, putting her at 751 and 919 for her career. All-Conference.

•Victoria Peterson (FC, 5’7” junior OH): was one of only nine girls in the conference with 200-plus kills (211) and, paired with Case, was one of only two duos (Lange/Fruechte) in the conference with 200-plus kills. Her powerful attacking helped make FC a 26-win team. All-Conference.



Others Worth Mentioning

•1st Team All SEC Performers: Christy Welscher (5’9” senior OH, M-C) and Kristina Mengis (6’0” senior RH, M-C).

•All SEC Honorable Mention: Christine Lee (5’5” junior libero, M-C) and Sydney Johnson (5’7” senior OH, Lanesboro).

•All 3-Rivers Honorable Mention: Kileigh Dudek (5’7” senior setter, Chatfield), Brook Irish (5’10” sophomore MH, Chatfield), Maddy Kammer (5’9” sophomore OH, Chatfield), Gabrielle Salisbury (5’7” junior setter, Chatfield), Maddie Talamantes (5’6” sophomore DS, Chatfield), Sammi Bakke (5’10” sophomore MH, FC), Chelsea Rislove (5’4” senior libero, FC), Leah Scheevel (5’9” sophomore MH, FC), Lizzie Tart (5’7” senior setter, Kingsland), and Mariah Mueller (5’6” senior DS, R-P).

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