Posted On: 01/3/19 4:59 PM

It’s Here!  Club season 2019 is here.  From now until the end of June/beginning of July will be full go for club ball as Minnesota kicks off play this weekend with the Molten Series being held at M1, MN Select, and the Midwest Volleyball Warehouse.  With Brackets going A through T with additional pool and crossover matches, it provides plenty of teams opportunities to make an early statement with hopes of playing their best ball and plenty of momentum heading into June.  This will be my first time covering the Molten Series and the decision on where to even start can be a little daunting. So many GREAT teams, so many players I want to see play live. What I enjoy about the club season is the progress and improvement that can be seen from January to even March or April.  Athletes start to figure it out, as frustrating as some of the footwork, new fundamentals, or adjustments to the speed of the game may be, it all of a sudden “clicks” and that is what I enjoy so much about this sport!

Here are five things I am looking at when it comes to the Molten Series this weekend:

Bracket A – Opening Round

Northern Lights 18-1 will be fresh off a National Championship in July in the USAV 17 Open.  With a roster loaded of highly touted recruits such as Kyndra Hansen (Iowa), Ellie Husemann (Minnesota), Marissa Hinkle (UCLA), Peyton Seuss (Wake Forest), and Kennedi Orr (Nebraska) just to name a few – will be facing High Voltage out of the Waconia/Mayer area.  High Voltage will feature one of the top players in the Class of 2020 in Olivia Tjernagel who has committed to play at Northern Iowa along with Anna and Lily Wacholz of Mayer Lutheran. Mayer Lutheran will be one of the favorites in Class A next high school season.  Another team to keep an eye on would be Vital 18-Gold featuring Minnetonka high school stars Drew McDougall (South Dakota State), Alison Sundem, Erin Shoemaker, Greta Miller, Kaya Gendreau, and McKenna Eggers. SMV 18-1 out of the Rochester area will be another highly competitive team with some of the top athletes out of Southeast Minnesota.

New Look To MN Select 18s

MN Select 18s will have a different look to them this year.  With players such as Izzy Ashburn, Kaitlyn Weimerskirch, and Emma Schmidt all of Champlin Park playing up on the 18s last year and Lauren Clark spending the second semester getting a head start at Penn State will provide a little bit of a different look for the traditional power.  Select will also be adding some athletes  who played their high school ball in Wisconsin and their club ball for Kokoro last year in Katie Mattson (Concordia – St. Paul), Mackenzie Kummer (Air Force Academy), and Class of 2021 middle blocker/right side in Anna Wolf of River Falls who has already given her verbal to play at Minnesota.  

Juhnke To Lead M1

Elizabeth Juhnke capped off a stellar high school career at Lakeville North and will be playing at South Dakota who won the Summit League Conference Tournament earning a spot in the NCAA Tournament.  The M1 18s team will also feature Alena Moldan who has committed to New Mexico and setter Sarah Luong, a 2020 prospect who has a strong IQ for the game and will be a great combination with these powerful attackers.

Warm Up For Next Weekend

Kokoro 17s last year competing as 16s at NJC.

All of these athletes and coaches are competitors, every time they step on the court they will be fighting to win.  However, as much as everyone wants to win there is a much bigger picture with many clubs competing in big tournaments next weekend.  The January Thaw/18s Northern Lights Qualifier will be in Omaha next weekend where MN Select and Northern Lights will be gearing up to secure an early bid where other teams will be competing in the Rochester Elite Scrimmages.  Kokoro will be sending teams to the Winter Classic in Milwaukee next weekend that will feature some of the top Wisconsin clubs as well as some from the Chicagoland as well. This weekend will be a great chance to get a look at different lineups, take a few lumps, and hopefully through these experience build some confidence for the following weekend.

Kokoro Looking To Make Early Statement

The Kokoro 17-1 team finished the season absolutely on fire, finishing in the top 15 of the 16 Open Division at AAU’s last year.  They will feature some high powered recruits led by Maddie Whittington, the 6’4 middle blocker out of Stillwater who is committed to Illinois, Emily Banitt of River Falls committed to Loyola – Chicago, Maddi Kealy of River Falls as well as Cianna Selbitscka of North Branch are committed to UMD, and Lauren Stenman is a multi-dimensional player who will be playing at Lewis, a Division 2 in Illinois.  Kokoro 15-1 is coming off a strong season as 14s last season and will have a tough opening matchup with Northern Lights 17-1. Kokoro will be especially strong in the middle with Makenzie Roettger of New Life Academy and Haley Graetz of River Falls. Graetz and Dani Lien also of River Falls were AAU All Americans last year in 14 Club. Jada Nunn will be the setter distributing to a well balanced attack and a strong 2022 prospect.

We will be providing updates Saturday and Sunday on @PrepDigMN with a recap next week of the results and notable performances. 

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