Posted On: 11/9/20 4:43 PM

There is something about the jump from a Freshman to Sophomore year or the 15s to 16s level.  There are athletes who have the foundation their Freshman year, they go through all the fundamentals, repetitions, and the flip is switched and by their Sophomore year they just look different.  Their confidence is up, they are a bit more comfortable, and when that happens, huge strides are made in their game and a major impact happens on the court. 


For the Class of 2023, the sophomores, it was a breakout for some of these athletes who made themselves a name at the state tournament.  Career highs, big numbers, and a chance to really show what they could do for their teams in a big way! Here is a look at some of the sophomores who had breakout performances at the state tournament. 

Cassidy Hartman Cassidy Hartman 5'10" | MB Iowa City Liberty | 2023 State IA – Iowa City Liberty 

Hartman was on the Liberty team last year as a Freshman who led her team in kills, but for the Liberty squad in 2019 it was a quick out after running into a tough Pleasant Valley team.  This year for Liberty and Hartman, they just had a different demeanor.  No longer the new kids on the block and Hartman just looked different.  Her length was effective in every rotation with being able to attack from the front and backrow.  Her physicality at the net and her ability to adjust to a defense who is gearing up against her really shows her versatility and IQ.  Her 35 kills in a semifinal win against Valley was one to be remembered and earned her a spot on the All Tournament Team in Class 5A. 


Claudia Aschenbrenner Claudia Aschenbrenner 5'10" | OH Osage | 2023 State IA – Osage (Title Photo)

Aschenbrenner, with her pink hair and all just adds to her firey personality on the court and the enthusiasm and intensity she plays with every point.  The 5’10 middle was able to raise a state championship trophy with her teammates and was extremely key offensively and defensively.  In their quarterfinal match against Humboldt, Aschenbrenner had 12 kills on 17 attempts and no errors – thats a .706 hitting percentage.  Video game like numbers. Her motor is high and energy is extremely contagious.  With her ability to hit a quick tempo or a slide she makes herself available in multiple situations. 

Olivia Lombardi Olivia Lombardi 5'7" | DS/L West Des Moines Valley | 2023 State IA – West Des Moines Valley 

The athletiicsm for Olivia Lombardi Olivia Lombardi 5'7" | DS/L West Des Moines Valley | 2023 State IA is unreal.  Her older sister, Payton will be playing libero at Tennessee Tech and has older brothers playing D1 football so the family genes of athleticism run deep.  Olivia has a spark where she is a flat out gamer, she covers a big area and can take control of a match from the backcourt with her serve receive and ability to take pass of the ball.  She is accustomed to playing high level club ball in the offseason and will be one college coaches will be happy to contact June 15 after her Sophomore year. 

Kayla Knowles Kayla Knowles 5'11" | OH Denver | 2023 State IA – Denver 

The state tournament was the first time I was able to see Denver play live and was so impressed with the intensity and energy their team brought to the court.  Their quarterfinal 3-1 match was definitely one to note where it was tight the whole way.  Knowles is a solid attacker with a big leap and huge arm.  She is able to hit a variety of angles and knows how to find the open spot.  She had nearly 400 kills on the season and with continued training to her backcourt game she will be one to score points from anywhere in the future. 


Chloe Cline Chloe Cline 6'1" | MB Pleasant Valley | 2023 State IA – Pleasant Valley 

Cline is one of those athletes where everyone needs to know where she is in the front row.  She is uber quick laterally and a great leaper which makes her a threat to all attackers when she is up blocking.  She connects really well with setter, Kora Ruff Kora Ruff 5'9" | S Pleasant Valley | 2022 State IA where the two will have another season working together for the Spartans.  Cline is one of those who has a blend of speed, athleticism, and power which will be so fun to watch develop even more throughout her career. 

Ava Schubert Ava Schubert 6'1" | RS Assumption | 2023 State IA – Davenport Assumption 

Ava Schubert Ava Schubert 6'1" | RS Assumption | 2023 State IA might be in a little bit of a different situation than some of these other athletes.  She busted onto the scene her Freshman year, winning MAC player of the year, leading her team to the quarterfinals, and even being a key contributor for the Assumption basketball team who made it to state as well.  She followed up her sophomore year with more big numbers where teams where geared to stop her, led her team to a quarterfinal win after back to back years of five set heartbreakers, and was named to the All Tournament Team.  Her physicality at the net and ability to attack out of the backrow is what sets her apart from others on the right side.