Posted On: 12/31/18 8:28 AM
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I covered my first tournament of 2018 at the Great Lakes Power League Super Open 17/18s Division the first weekend of January focusing on the Wisconsin teams with the top players, teams, and hidden gems in mind. I thought that was pretty fun, told people about this new website called Prep Dig Wisconsin – hundreds of sets of volleyball, thousands of words written, and so many great connections formed in the volleyball world later, the momentum heading into 2019 is more than I could imagined. Reflecting back on 2018, here are ten articles that captured the year with state tournaments in Iowa, Minnesota, and Wisconsin to the summer leagues and team camps, and tournaments with those cold winter mornings parking in the downtown convention center parking ramps. For the athletes who earned awards, won championships, played their role perfectly for their teammates has the Prep Dig crew ready for more expansion and coverage in 2019.
At our Top 250 Expo in Milwaukee there were so many players I had yet to see, and players who I know will be breakout players to watch in 2019. I have always thought the biggest gains is from the 15s to 16s level with more experience playing two seasons of high school and a much faster paced tempo. Definitely take a look at these athletes heading into the 2019 club season.
In November, I was able to attend the Wisconsin, Iowa, and Minnesota state tournament. If only it was all combine. Each one with their unique flavor and plenty of talent. The state of high school volleyball in the upper Midwest is alive and well with fans traveling to support their community.
Prior to the Iowa state tournament, I picked ten athletes that would be ones to keep tabs on throughout the tournament. Some of them well known, others waiting to make the splash on to the state volleyball scene. There will always be athletes who are the household volleyball names, but extremely exciting to see new players step up in the spotlight.
Kasson-Mantorville and Stewartville were two of the top teams in Southeast Minnesota as well as the entire state. When these two conference rivals squaring off, it was much more than a game. The pep band was involved, the fans were in full attendance, and the science geek in me was beyond elated to see the robot made from Kasson-Mantorville robotics was launching t-shirts into the crowd. Tough to find a bigger atmosphere than this.
The Winter Classic put on my Wisconsin Juniors held typically the second weekend of January is always a big time tournament to kick off the season. The likes of Milla Malik and Karlee McNabb from Capital Volleyball Academy were making their presence known and are now committed to Buffalo and Loyola (IL). Kaleigh Fitzgerald of Milwaukee Sting has since moved with her family to the Boston area and will be playing for SMASH. Katie DiRaimondo is mentioned in this article and could be the next big commit to come out of the Class of 2020.
2018 was the year of the Winter Olympics held in Sochi, South Korea. A little spin off the events, combined with the Class of 2018 made for some interesting combinations. Izzy Barr and Marissa Stockman of River Falls would definitely be one of the top pair figure skaters with their chemistry together at the net. Emily Scott of Kimberly and who finished her Freshman year at Louisville would be a great ski jumper with her explosive hops.
“The Miracle Season” released Spring of 2018 was one of the first motion picture volleyball movies featuring the legacy of Caroline Found, an All-State setter for Iowa City West who was tragically killed in a moped accident right before her senior season in 2011. The story of perseverance, community, and just happens to be told through volleyball.
The Badger Region in Wisconsin puts on quite an event with three weekends of tournaments for all teams, all ages, and includes boys and girls competing simultaneously at the Wisconsin Center in Milwaukee. The region also hosts high performance tryouts in conjunction with the event and is definitely a celebration of all things Wisconsin volleyball.
With teams across five states, the Wisconsin Badger Team camp has some of the top coaches from the high school, club, and college level leading high school teams with big dreams for the fall with a chance to build a solid foundation in the summer. This particular team camp featured Champlin Park High School out of Minnesota who eventually went on to win the Class AAA (large school class) in Minnesota, Kettle Moraine Lutheran (D2 State Runner-Up), and Omaha Duchense who was one of the top programs in Nebraska this year.
This was my first big weekend covering Minnesota prep volleyball and Marshall happened to be the place where teams from all over the state were able to compete at Marshall High School and Southwest Minnesota State University. Champlin Park, winner of the tournament would go on to be state champions of Class AAA, while Minneota, the Class A Minnesota state champion was knocking off some Class AAA powers and state contenders the whole weekend.