Suring's Stegeman Reigns Supreme as Volleyball MVP
The M&O All Conference Volleyball voting results have been released and they are topped by none other than Suring's Katie Stegeman who earned top honors with her election to the Conference's Player of the Year.
After winning their first conference title in more than 30 years the Eagles were well represented in this year's voting with a second Eagle, Nikki Niemann making the first team list.
Now anyone who as had the privilege of seeing this year's Eagles squad probably isn't too surprised to see Stegeman at the top of the list. All season long the middle of the net was a no man's land, controlled by the quick strikes of Stegeman. Whether she was rejecting a kill attempt with a perfect block or driving home a kill of her own, M&O teams truly had something to fear when facing the high flying Eagles.
"Katie Stegeman's goal coming into the season was to earn the MVP for our conference," said Suring Head Coach Tonia Kruschke. "She has been a solid player all three years on varsity and continued to grow with each season."
Coach Kruschke also took a moment to acknowledge just how humble of a player this Eagle has been for her team, "Katie is a quiet leader on the floor. She shows her strengths through her play. She is also the player that continued to keep our team goal of winning conference in the forefront. It was about our success as a team with each game."
But a conference championship can only be won with teammates that can help raise the level of play and Niemann was one of those players.
"Nikki Niemann is just a versatile player," said Kruschke. "She played all over the court for me. She is a heads up, court-sense smart volleyball player and is willing to do what is asked of her. As a coach I asked her to play the middle though I know her strength is on the outside, but due to her net sense she stepped up in the middle for us. Nikki is a coachable athlete and I look forward to seeing what she will accomplish with her senior year."
Second place Peshtigo was also well represented on this season's first team with the election of two Bulldog standouts. They were Claire Neumann and Ashley Dudka.
Neumann, a three year varsity starter, earned her place on the team thanks to some pretty impressive stats. She led her team with 32 aces, 208 kills, 22 blocks and 137 digs on the season.
"Claire was an all around player who played in every game this season. She was our highest point getter and led the team in kills," said Peshtigo Head Coach Robin Gilligan. "She was also my most consistent player with the fewest errors in serving and attacking. Her versatility in hitting was key to a lot of our matches because defenses didn't know if she was hitting down line, cross court, or using a finesse shot."
Many of those kills rung in by Neumann were made possible by Peshtigo's Dudka, also a three year varsity starter, who was one of the conference's most consistent setters. By season's end Dudka had posted 461 assists while also getting 41 aces, 34 kills, 27 blocks and 80 digs.
"Ashley was the glue to our offense. Her amazing ability to set from anywhere on the court with accuracy is going to be hard to replace," said Gilligan. "Her strong leadership skills and work ethic were the key to her success. Even though she was 1st team last year, she was able to improve her game even more by adding a jump serve and jump set to her game, as well as, a very deceptive tip kill."
Top defensive specialist honors went to Gillett's senior standout Myranda Pratsch. Things have not come easily for this tough and preserving Tiger who had to overcome a broken leg her sophomore year and a serious car accident her junior year. This season she posted 159 digs and led her team in serve receive percentage with a 2.3 on a 3.0 scale while also obtaining a 91% serving average with 14 aces to boot.
"Myranda is an upbeat, hard working, team player who gives us her best, even if she is struggling," said Gillett Head Coach Keri Hicks. "She set a goal for herself to be the M & O Defensive Player of the year, and was ecstatic when she found out that her goal was obtained. Her team members were just as happy, because of the positive leader that she is for our team. Myranda encourages her teammates and keeps her words positive, which is why they respect her and hold her in such high regard."
Also joining the list was Coleman's deadly net weapon Ashlee Mayer. Though the Cougars were unable to take the conference's top spot this year they certainly did look like one of the best, and a lot of this had to do with the scary spiking abilities of Mayer. There were a lot of closed eyes on the faces of opposing team's players who went up to block against her, but don't blame them, Mayer's spike strength was unrivaled in the conference.
This season she lead her team in just about everything there is, topping the Cougars in aces with 55, in digs with 280, in kills with 253 while also leading the girls in green with 59 blocks.
"Ashlee was named Most Valuable Player this season by her team," said Coleman Head Coach Kim Henry. "Ashlee is an all around great player. She was a huge asset to the team. This was her 3rd year on the varsity squad and her experience, love for the sport and skill shined through this year in her performance."
Wausaukee's Alexis Ranallo also made the first team list. Offensively she recorded 127 kills with only 35 errors. She was also tough from the end line with 41 aces. She had 7 blocks and 52 digs.
"Alexis was a consistent player for us all year long. Even as a senior she improved her game this year and that is because she is a hard worker and very coachable. As a senior leader her teammates looked to her to lead our team", said Wausaukee Head Coach Mandy Allman. "Overall she capped off her high school volleyball career playing her best volleyball yet."
This years second team list was composed of two seniors, four juniors and a sophomore.
The Seniors were Niagara's Peyton Aderman and Suring's Courtney Heimerl. The juniors included St. Thomas Aquinas' Amelia Benson, Coleman's Annabelle Kotecki, Gillett's Willow Pecha and Peshtigo's Shae Tonn. The lone freshman on the second team was Crivitz's up and coming hitter Chole Gruszynski, one of only two freshman to make the all conference list this season.
Honorable mentions were received by Gillett's Erin Balthazor and Victoria Loberger. Crivitz's Abby Barley and Talor Long. Oneida's Jashon Kilspotted. Wausaukee's Courtney Messar and Callie Orlando, both sophomores, and Niagara's Abby McCarthy and freshman Jasmine Racine.
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