Experience and more height than usual provide optimism for the 2020 Spring Grove volleyball girls, who return nine of 10 letter winners from a 19-10 team, a third straight season with that many wins. Half of 10 setbacks came against state-ranked teams. The Lions, at 10-4 SEC, finished tied for second in the SEC East, a fourth straight runner-up finish with a playoff win.
The lone loss to graduation was All-SEC Amelia Solum who was also Lion MVP & school Female Athlete of the Year. But sophomore 5’10” middle hitter Addyson McHugh was First Team All-SEC as a freshman, leading the Lions in points scored (376), kills (291), kill percentage (37%), hitting efficiency (21%) and scoring blocks (44). McHugh was second in ace serves (41).
Sophomore Maggie Lile, who will be starting for a third season after receiving Honorable Mention All-SEC as a freshman hitter, will return to libero, where she started as a varsity eighth grader. Last year, Lile led SG in serve percentage (96.7%) with 14 aces and was second in passing average (2.04).
Last year’s libero, 5’7” senior VaNessa Peterson (Hustle Award), will be an outside hitter/defender. Junior Rachel Normann will be the starting setter for a second season. Other returning regulars are senior defender Paige Jahnke and 5’11” junior MH Brielle Neely.
There will be greater responsibility for 5’8” junior defender/OH/server Julia Halverson plus sophomores 5’8” RS Lydia Solum (Most Improved) and 5’9” OH Kenadee Gerard.
Other Lion candidates include 5’8” senior right side Kelsey Bratland along with junior defenders Ava Olerud and McKenzie Fisch plus junior hitters Emma Tyribakken, Danika Holty and Brianna Johnson. Katelyn Kraus is a 5’10” freshman middle hitter.
There is both the most height and experience in recent memory and yet a relatively young primary rotation (two seniors, three juniors, four sophomores.) SG graduated the MVP but return most of the offense, which logged 99% of last year’s assists, 93% of scoring blocks, 86% of service aces, 75% of kills and 71% of last year’s digs. Defensive consistency and ball control will be areas of emphasis said sixth-year head coach Kelsey (Anderson) Morken (99-61), former SG Athlete of the Year and college netter.
It is a distinguished, all-Lion alumni coaching staff with Morken assisted by Taylor Elton, Julianna Lile, Kaitlin Bratland and Jordan Anderson.
The regular-season schedule is COVID-abbreviated to 14 matches – all of which count as conference contests. With Southland back in the Southeast Conference for the first time since 2001, there is a realignment of the two divisions. The Lions will play twice against each of their East Division rivals – Lanesboro, Mabel-Canton, Houston, Randolph and Schaeffer Academy. There will be one crossover match versus four of the six West Division squads – LeRoy-Ostrander, Grand Meadow, Glenville-Emmons and Kingsland. The Lions will not face either Southland or Lyle/Pacelli.
Mabel-Canton (14-0 SEC) and Grand Meadow (12-2) were division champions last autumn. Both Spring Grove and Lanesboro each had double-digit SEC wins, tied at 10-4 as runners-up in the SEC East.
There will be an SEC East Division champion and a section tournament, but no state tournament this year.
Spring Grove opened the 2020 season on October 8 at Glenville-Emmons before hosting LeRoy-Ostrander on October 12 and traveling the next night to Spring Valley to take on Kingsland. Then a week later, the Lions host Mabel-Canton on Tuesday, October 20. The complete schedule will be in the next edition.
Lions the Last 6 seasons
2019…..19-10 (10-4 SEC, 2nd tie East)
2018…..27-4 (12-2 SEC, 2nd East)
2017…..22-7 (11-2 SEC, 2nd East)
2016…..17-12 (10-4 SEC, 2nd East)
2015…..15-13 (9-5 SEC, 3rd East)
2014…..14-14 (9-5 SEC, 3rd East)