Posted On: 12/26/18 9:15 AM

Across the state every year there are hard-working seniors that have sacrificed a lot for their school’s volleyball program but don’t see the playing time that others do. Wouldn’t it be cool to recognize those kids?

Yes, it sure would.

So, an email was sent to every coach in the state asking them if they had any “unsung” seniors that didn’t play enough to get their jersey sweaty but made a positive impact on the team with their attitude, dedication and willingness to be a team player. The response was overwhelming.

In 2017, the PrepDig Nebraska Unsung Senior All-State Team was born and we are excited to continue it on in 2018.

Below are the seniors who have earned that All-State recognition and a brief description of them. If you are looking for athletes that epitomize what Nebraska values and hard work are all about, these are your kids.

*Listed in no particular order

2018 Unsung Senior All-State Team

Paige Moore – Clarkson-Leigh

“Paige Moore is definitely an unsung senior for Clarkson-Leigh.  She was a starter her junior year and helped our team reach State in 2017.  This year, as a senior, her role changed because of the changes we made for the team.  She lost her starting position and had to share playing time with a fellow senior. No matter how difficult her role got, she has always been so positive and such a great leader on and off the court!  She was always encouraging her team to do better and was always cheering for them no matter if she was on the court or on the bench. She was the first one off the bench to stand and celebrate with and for her team, and she was always cheering when she subbed out. She was a true team player that accepted and embraced a new role her senior year and continued to encourage her team every day.  She was the positive leader of our team!”~ Becky Schneider – coach of Clarkson-Leigh

Bailey Cady – Cody-Kilgore

 For Unsung Senior I nominate Bailey Cady.  She was our starting libero and suffered a knee injury during our preseason Hall of Fame game. She couldn’t play full speed again until subdistricts.  Despite this, she always showed up to practice every day to support the team and had a positive attitude.  She encouraged our team to adopt a strong work ethic and is one reason we were able to be state qualifiers.  Despite only playing in 21 sets, she had 14 aces and 33 digs.  I believe she would have been an All-Conference or All-State libero selection had it not been for her injury.” ~ April Lambert – coach of Cody-Kilgore

Emma Benck – Columbus

“For the unsung senior, I would like to nominate Emma Benck. She was a DS for us up until she tore her ACL. An interesting part of the story is that she is a triplet and the other two sisters are starters for our team – one as a 6-rotation OH and the other as a setter in our 6-2 system. After Emma’s injury, she was inspiring in how she supported her teammates. She didn’t play the victim card, she just accepted her injury as her new reality (after the initial shock and disappointment of course) and took initiative to find other ways to contribute to the team. That being through her loudly cheering on the sidelines, helping problem solve when teammates asked for help, and overall just being an example of what a teammate should be. So, she did get her uniform “sweaty” so to speak, but once that opportunity was taken from her, she became an unsung hero for the team.” ~ Jeri Otten – coach at Columbus

BaiLee McMillan and Olivia Bryant – Anselmo-Merna

“BaiLee McMillan & Olivia Bryant are both girls that worked hard every day during practice and only got a little playing during games. They were positive and encouraging during games and practices and the team voted them for our teammate award.” ~ Katie Hoblyn – coach at Anselmo-Merna

Kirsten Bures – Diller-Odell

“Kirsten would have been a player who would have gotten her jersey sweaty, but due to tearing her ACL during MUDECAS she only played in a handful of games for us this season, She would have been a go to hitter for us and was our only senior on the team.” ~ Kandice Jurgens – coach at Diller-Odell

Hannah Steinwart – Elwood

“I would like to nominate Hannah Steinwart as an “Unsung Senior” from Elwood High School. Hannah brought a special spark and energy to our team from the sidelines. Hannah was at almost every open gym this summer, attended every team camp, and was one of the most dedicated members of our team throughout the season. When Hannah was called upon to play, she went into the game with composure and did what she needed to do for the team.” ~ Lori Knoerzer – coach at Elwood

Mattie Daniels – Dundy County-Stratton

“Mattie Daniels was my unsung hero .  Mattie practiced everyday against the varsity and never complained , always had a smile on her face, and tried as hard as she could to compete and make the top 6 girls better.  She was not afraid to go to the floor after a ball and continued to improve and work hard to make herself better.” ~ Bill Wilson – coach at Dundy County-Stratton

Melissa Sextro – Boyd County

“My unsung senior is Melissa Sextro. She worked hard all four years playing on the junior varsity team she helped the younger players and always was a great teammate. The few minutes she played on varsity she hustled at all times and was great on the bench in support of the team.” ~ Bill Tabbert – coach at Boyd County

Elizabeth Neukirch – Eustis-Farnam

“Elizabeth Neukirch was an incredible leader on our team. She did get some playing time,  but will not be getting all-star recognition. The personal growth I have seen in this young lady in four years has positively impacted our team through her ability to lead: as a listener to players, problem solver, and middleman communicator from coaches to players. She is able to and shows others how changing your mindset from a selfish or negative space to one of growth and betterment for team can create amazing results. As an example, we gained a new and very talented player this season, unexpectedly. When she and others felt threatened, she decided to change her mindset to one of possibility and the team followed suit. She makes the team better, coaching more fun, and she will truly be missed for her grit and flamboyant personality.” ~ Trista Koch – coach at  Eustis-Farnam

McKenna Jedlicka and Aeriana Valdez – Columbus Lakeview

“McKenna Jedlicka missed a season of her high school career with injury, but nonetheless came out for her senior year.  Worked hard every day, supported her teammates, and performed every chance she got.  McKenna always had a smile on her face and was an outstanding senior leader-by-example.”

“Aeriana Valdez missed a season her high school career due to injury, but still made the decision to play volleyball in her senior season.  She worked as hard as she possibly could every day in practice, never did anything to put herself before her team, and she led by example with great character.”

~ K.C. Belitz – coach at Columbus Lakeview

Morgan Twiss – Central City

“I would like to nominate Morgan Twiss for my unsung senior. She did get to play back row, but did not get much recognition as far as stats go. She was all in all the time. When she was on the bench, she was on the edge of her seat cheering her teammates on. She was our emotional leader. Morgan’s demeanor and determination will be missed for sure! She would do anything for the team on the court, in the classroom, and even out of school. She never gave up and worked each year, each practice to better herself –  not for personal reasons, but knowing that if she did her best, she could help the team be better. That’s all she wanted.” ~Sheila Hiebner – coach at Central City

Taylor Williams – Chase County

“My Unsung Senior is Taylor Williams. She moved back to Imperial her senior year, didn’t see as much playing time as she would have liked but helped us out a ton in practice.  She was very encouraging.”  ~ Jodie Schuller – coach at Chase County

Brayden Rhoades – Giltner

“Brayden Rhoades played as an undersized middle. She was always positive. She worked with younger team members to help them improve, worked hard every day to get better and help her teammates get better.” ~ Jeanie Good – coach at Giltner

Chanda Cooper – Hershey

“I would like to nominate Chanda Cooper as our unsung hero.  She is a senior who made the decision to change roles and not go out for the team in late August. Her rationale: ‘There are many underclassmen who deserve the uniform(s) more than I do.’ She is very close to her teammates and wanted to still be there and involved every day. As a result, we named her our student-coach!  It was a rewarding season for we coaches to have her on board and meaningful to her and her peers to have her beside them all the way!!!  Wonderful person who deserves the recognition!!!” ~ Amy Beyer – coach at Hershey

Kamryn Willman – Grand Island Central Catholic

“Kamryn Willman saw little playing time this season off and on because of her blood clots, then developed Stills disease (diagnosed at Mayo clinic) and then sprained her ankle at practice. She hopes to play volleyball at College of St. Mary’s next year. She watched much of the season from the bench or saw limited action.” ~ Sharon Zavala – coach at Grand Island Central Catholic

Allanah Beller – Humphrey-Lindsay Holy Family

“The Unsung Senior for Humphrey-Lindsay Holy Family goes to Allanah Beller. Allanah didn’t start or put in a ton of minutes for us, but her value is still worth noting. Volleyball might not be her favorite sport, but she didn’t use this as an excuse to slack off. She always worked hard in every drill and maintained a positive attitude throughout the season. She was always willing to play any position needed on the scout team to make sure we were ready for every level of competition. She is the type of player you would want on your team as she exhibits many of the desirable qualities one would want in any player. Her smile, work ethic, and personality will all be missed next season without this Unsung Senior.” ~ Cami Oelsligle – coach at Humphrey-Lindsay Holy Family

Jayden Widener – Maywood-Hayes Center

“I have the perfect nomination for a senior who has been an inspiration to our team this year at Maywood-Hayes Center. Jayden Widener is a senior who tore her ACL this summer at basketball camp. She was a 3-year starter and a 2-year first team All-Conference player. She sat on the bench all season and was a great leader and teammate. No one on our team was more encouraging than Jayden. And no one wanted to be out on that court playing more than her.” ~ Kory Rhode – coach at Maywood-Hayes Center

Kaylee Kadow – Hastings

“Unsung player for me would be Kaylee Kadow. While Kaylee didn’t sit the bench she was a server and DS for us all season long, but didn’t get much recognition because of her limited time on the court and playing right back didn’t get a lot of balls hit her way.  She became one of our top passers, and is one of the best pure athletes around.  She even played some front row for us late in the season.  She has only been with us 3 years, and wasn’t eligible due to transfer her sophomore year but was last year and this year.  You won’t find many kids more athletic than Kaylee.” ~ Dave Heppner – coach at Hastings

Maddy Meyer and Cassie Barber – Norris

“Maddy was a senior outside hitter on our volleyball team. She came to practice every day and worked hard and made others around her better. She hit shots that frustrated our defense. Although Maddy did not see as much playing time as other hitters, she was always ready to come in off the bench and provide the spark we needed. I am so thankful for Maddy’s hard work, positive attitude, and leadership.”

“Cassie was a senior defensive specialist on our varsity team. Cassie made our passers better every day by serving bullets at them in practice. This was Cassie’s first year on the varsity team and I am so glad she went out all 4 years at Norris. She contributed to our team in ways that not everyone could see.”

~ Christina Boesiger – coach at Norris

Ashlyn Parrett – Maxwell

“Ashlyn Parrett played all 4 years of high school.  Basically, she sat beneath a previous class of seniors that were on the floor her freshmen through junior year.  This was to be her year.  She put in the work and the time over the years including club ball in the spring.  Due to some personal issues she had to step down from the team mid-season.  We continued to include Ashlyn in our senior parents night and all that she was able to continue to do at the time.  Ashlyn is a great kid with great character and a great personality.  She always pushed herself and expected more out of herself at all times.  The few times I did see her frustrated she always just got back to work and worked harder.  I remember her junior year we were looking for a middle blocker for a particular team with a strong middle opponent.  We gave her the opportunity and she did her job.  She had a stellar game with many blocks that night.  My philosophy has always been the student before the athlete. Ashlyn was very well supported in her decision to take that time to put her personal needs first.  The team continued to uplift and encourage her along her journey.  She deserves this award for being the special girl that she is and for understanding that recognition doesn’t always come on the court but instead in making the best decisions for yourself in life.” ~ Gina Sommer – coach at Maxwell

Jada Griffin – Brownell-Talbot

“Jada is an amazing young lady who has played 4 years of volleyball and stuck to it no matter what. The most amazing thing about her is after losing her mother a year ago she continued to be an inspiration to me and her teammates. She is always all in, she is eager to learn and plays with all her heart, no matter what. Every time our team needed an inspirational talk or a push to believe in themselves, Jada was there to provide that. She led through her actions and with passion. I believe that she is so deserving of this award and would love to nominate her for the “Unsung Senior” award. Thank you for providing this opportunity for players like Jada that are all over the state of Nebraska.” ~ Angie Vetter – coach at Brownell-Talbot

Janessa Carley – Leyton

“Janessa Carley has been a part of our volleyball program since 7th grade. She has always brought a strong work ethic and positive attitude to practice and games. Janessa is very special to me . I’ve never seen her roll her eyes, she’s always done what’s been asked of her, she has competed at the level in which we needed her and provided great leadership to our younger athletes when she was on the court with them. She has improved over the years due to her willingness to be coachable. Janessa is a National Honor Society student and has provided peer tutoring to her teammates when they were struggling academically. She always has a helping hand to lend as needed. I would love for her to be honored for her commitment and dedication to Leyton Warrior Volleyball throughout the years.” ~ Jodi Craig – coach at Leyton

Gabby Steffen – Hartington Cedar Catholic

“Gabby Steffen  has done an amazing job for our team. She came in fighting for a MH position and did not get it but became our do-it-all practice player. She has stepped in numerous times and changes positions to fit the need of the team. One of our players was sick for a game and she stepped in and played for us like nothing ever changed. She conquered this season with grace and poise in the face of adversity to be one of the best teammates and we never had to worry about her attitude. She is a large part of why our team ended up state runner up this year.” ~ Denae Buss – coach at Hartington Cedar Catholic

 Isabel “Isa” Cisneros – Lincoln North Star

“Isa is a player who has been in our program for four years, she was someone who only saw the court a couple times, but was constantly a positive teammate. She was someone her teammates enjoyed being around and could always make the team laugh when they needed it most. Isa never questioned and always knew what her role would be this season and embraced it every single day. She came to practice daily giving it all she had and really worked to improve herself and her teammates. In post-game reflections, you would never guess by Isa’s answers that she wasn’t directly on the court because her focus was never on not playing, but always on what she could do to better her team. Isa will greatly be missed by her coaches and teammates in our volleyball program.” ~ Jessy Denker – coach at Lincoln North Star

Tatum Custer and Joliet Rinaker – Lincoln Northeast

“Tatum has been a 4-year member of the Lincoln Northeast Volleyball team who has always exhibited a strong work ethic, a coachable demeanor, and a “team first” mentality. The summer before Tatum’s freshmen year she was a hard-working freshmen-to-be that we met during weight training and agility sessions at LNE. The volleyball staff noticed that Tatum was a hard working, athletic kid that could also help us on the volleyball court. We talked to her all summer and even got her to come to a few open gyms. Luckily Tatum showed up to tryouts that August, and the rest is history. Tatum worked her way through the ranks of playing reserve and JV volleyball as a freshmen, to making varsity (swinging JV) her sophomore year and earning a spot as a varsity starter her junior and senior years. Tatum’s stats aren’t ones that will jump off the page, but her worth to the team as a hard-working leader, are stats that will continue to serve her well after high school. There wasn’t a harder working kid in our gym than Tatum.”

“Joliet has been a 4 year member of the Lincoln Northeast Volleyball team, all while being a 4 year member of the Lincoln Northeast girls basketball and soccer teams as well. Joliet had been a middle hitter by trade the last 3 years, until 3 year when we had a need and required her to learn the outside/rightside hitter positions as well. Joliet really bought into the aspect of being a passer and defensive players and improved immensely in those areas as the season progressed. She was a great vocal leader for our young team and was honest with the girls when she said, “I hated Songster as a sophomore, but looking back, I wish I would’ve “bought in” and listened sooner.” Joliet is a smart, talented individual who pushes everyone to achieve more in a positive manner, and can always be looked upon to speak up when she feels that her teammates need it. She knows what it means to be a cohesive, sportsmanlike teammate, and tries to help everyone on her team be that as well.”

~ Craig Songster – coach at Lincoln Northeast

Sydney Jones – Medicine Valley

“Sydney has been such a joy to coach throughout her high school career.  Her positive attitude and work ethic were contagious, and she always had a willingness to do anything she could to help the team.  Her sophomore year she hurt her foot and was unable to play most of the year.  However, that didn’t slow her down at all.  She still attended all of our practices, games, and even our weekend tournaments.  She was always the first person to ask what she could do to help, and never hesitated to step up and help out wherever we needed it. This year, during her senior year, Sydney was a great leader and role model to our younger players.  Although she didn’t play a lot on varsity her willingness to always do what was best for the team never wavered, and she improved tremendously throughout the year.  She is a player every coach wants on their team, and will be missed greatly next year.” ~ Diana Klein – coach at Medicine Valley

Mackenzie Kovar – Ainsworth

“Mackenzie has participated in volleyball all through junior high and high school. Overall this year we had a very young team and Mackenzie was integral in helping our young players.  She knows every position on the court, is an encouraging teammate, and is always helping teammates on and off the court. She understands the game and is an extremely hard worker. In the offseason Mackenzie was extremely dedicated to our weight lifting program and encouraged others to attend. When her role changed early in the season, she took it in stride and stayed positive, working to get better and make her team better. Mackenzie is an amazing teammate, leading the team in cheers for those on the court. I cannot think of anyone more deserving of this honor than Kovar.” ~ Jeri Graff – coach at Ainsworth

Kate Pipher – Nebraska Christian

“I would like to nominate Kate Pipher from Nebraska Christian for the unsung hero award. Kate is a senior on our team who is a tremendous example of what a teammate should be. She has gone out for volleyball, basketball and track all four years to improve her athleticism and has received very little reward or recognition for her efforts. But the great thing about Kate is that she just keeps on working and encouraging others. This year in volleyball, she was able to play some at the beginning of the season, but as the younger girls started to quickly develop, she saw the floor less and less. Instead of being negative and creating a bad environment for her teammates, she pressed on and continued to work hard and cheer for the girls that had taken her place. She is selfless and sees her purpose and value in ways that cannot be measured by kills and blocks. She has spent most of her career on the sidelines but that does not lessen her importance on the team. Therefore, I would like to recognize Kate Pipher as an unsung hero.” ~ Tonya Ostrad – coach at Nebraska Christian

Jessica Borg – Wakefield-Allen

“I would like to nominate Jessica Borg for an “Unsung Senior ” award. Jessica led our team a year ago in kills with 210, in blocks with 51, and was second in assists with 206.

She was named to the Lewis & Clark All Conference Team and was the top vote getter in our division. She was an Academic All State Winner and was Honorable Mention in several of the end of the year recognitions. She tore her ACL in March and has been doing rehab since. She came to every volleyball practice and game we had this season.

She helped hit balls during drills, shag balls during drills, teach the younger players rotations, gave advice to younger setters and hitters, practiced serving every day and was a positive role model through it all. As tough as it was to be on the sideline, she never let it show while she cheered on her teammates. I truly believe Jessica Borg is an “Unsung Senior.” ~ Iris Borg – coach at Wakefield-Allen

Carley Hofmeister – Pender

“I would like to nominate Carley Hofmeister for the unsung senior award. Carley is one of those girls that has the biggest heart and tried really hard but wasn’t able to see a lot of playing time. During her freshman year, Carley was diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis. She was not supposed to play any sports because of this but she fought through the pain and went out for volleyball all four years. Carley was our biggest cheerleader. She was always cheering, talking, and jumping up and down during our games. She loved the sport and wasn’t going to let anyone stop her from playing. I am very proud to have a player like Carley on my team.” ~ Kayla Brewer – coach at Pender

Alicen Fischer – Plainview

“Alicen Fischer was a senior on the volleyball team this past season.  She never missed a day of summer lifting and worked hard every day in the weight room.  We also ran every day which came out to be about 60 miles this summer.  Ally is not a petite young lady and managed to continue to improve her time every week.  She took over 5 minutes off of her 2 mile time.  She also attended summer league volleyball and did not see much playing time.  Her attitude remained positive.  We started the season and Ally didn’t have a position to play.  She was beat out by a freshman.  That was very difficult.  I was honest with her from the beginning and told her that her role was just as important as those that played.  She became the team cheerleader and made it a point to encourage all players, even the younger players that played ahead of her.  We had a player get hurt and I moved the freshman to a middle and Ally got to play the front row outside hitter.  She played in about 5 games and we were in the conference quarter finals and Ally went down.  She ended up tearing her ACL.  She just couldn’t catch a break.  She came to every practice after that and will have surgery next week.  She is still positive.  I was proud to be her coach.” ~ Patty Novicki – coach at Plainview

Morgan Suhr – Overton

 “Morgan was a strong leader.  As a senior she always put her teammates first.  She put the team before herself.  She understood and played her role extremely well.  The team voted her as one of the team captains.  As a captain, she read her Leadership manual and participated in captain’s meetings.  Then the two seniors would present the leadership goals and information back to the team.  She was an encourager, made iron team, and was voted on by her teammates as “Best Teammate.” She made the 400lb club.  Not only was she a leader to her teammates and coaches but she was a leader in the classroom.”  ~ Hayley Ryan – coach at Overton

Abigail Meyer – Papillion-LaVista

Abby has been with the PLHS Volleyball Program for 4 years and has been a steady and solid leader since day 1. She is a calming presence on the team and has no problem helping out with whatever the team needs during practice. Abby is a great student and will thrive in whatever she chooses to do after college, it’s been a pleasure to have her on our team this year and in the program for the past 4 years.” ~ Ashley Feekin Beccard – coach at Papillion-LaVista

Natalie Dunn – Sutton

“Natalie was a starter for us as a junior.  This summer she experienced some health concerns that required her to sit out the first 6 weeks of season and a few days sporadically throughout season.  As a senior leader, Natalie did not miss any team activities, practices or conditioning during this time she could not participate.  She even helped with practice structure discussions with coaches, helped lead drills, partner with players when needed.  When she was playing and practicing with the team, she filled whatever role was asked of her, without any hesitation, and regardless of what position was asked.  She worked hard in practice always working to get better.  She understands the game well and was extremely helpful at teaching the game to other players when they needed it.  Natalie’s lead by example attitude and team support will be missed next season.” ~ Shelli Mohnike – coach at Sutton

Alexis Sack – St. Paul

“I would like to nominate Alexis Sack for the Unsung Senior Award.  At 5’5″, Alexis was extremely small for a middle blocker in class C-1 which features so many Division 1 quality hitters.  Despite her size, Alexis was extremely important for our team and consistently came up with key blocks and kills at critical times.  More importantly, she was the girl on the court that understood our blocking game plan for each match and would communicate with our other blockers to make sure they were keying on the correct hitters.  She was also a team captain and was instrumental in making sure the girls got along through the entire season.  She was a two-year starter and I never once considered taking her off the court even though statistically she wasn’t our strongest player.” ~ Matt Koehn-Fairbanks – coach at St. Paul

Rachael Binstock – Bishop Neumann

“Rachael Binstock is the epitome of the type of player every coach wants on his/her team.  She’s an extremely hard worker, she’s a great teammate, she wants what’s best for the team.  Rachael would have LOVED to be a starter or even a regular off the bench, but she never let her lack of playing time affect her attitude or her effort.  She was always the loudest player on the bench, cheering her teammates on.  She also was the biggest supporter of the player who beat her out for a spot on the right side.  She was a great asset to our scout team as we prepared for post season play.  She has a bright future ahead of her.” ~ Brandi Sladky – coach at Bishop Neumann

Marissa Salber – Millard North

“Marissa is a learner of the game, She’s extremely intelligent on and off the court. She has consistently been an academic All-State player. What I noticed this year about Marissa is that she really embraced the role of being the off-the-bench setter and did a great job of supporting the team and Izzy Lukens as well. I know Izzy really appreciated the relationship she had with Marissa and felt very fortunate to play along side of her. Marissa has plans to play to volleyball in college, so I’m really excited for that. I feel like Marissa really stepped up this year as a senior.” ~ Lindsay Peterson – coach at Millard North