Posted On: 12/25/20 8:00 AM
So much goes on within a team behind the scenes. All of these young ladies put in numerous hours in the gym, weight room, classroom, and more. And, in turn, some may not see the playing time on the court, but still have quite an impact on the team. Others may see the court, but still have a story all their own. Read on to learn more about some outstanding young ladies in the volleyball community.
Players are listed in alphabetical order by school.
Coach Libby Lollman: Elizabeth AndersonElizabethAnderson5'4" | SHastings Adams Central | 2021NE was a senior this year. She has played many different roles since her sophomore year including a serving specialist and 6-2 setter. This year her role changed many times throughout the year. However, whatever her role was that week or that game, Elizabeth always put the team first and when she was in the game, was a strong contributor. Outside of season, she was a great leader and example for the younger players on the court, in the weight room, and in the classroom. She is a leader who set high expectations for those in our program and brought a positive attitude with her everyday. She was a major part of why our team qualified for the state tournament for the first time since ’88 and we will miss her and everything she brought to our program next year.
Kiley RathjenKileyRathjenMHCentenial | 2021StateNE | 2021 | S/MH | Centennial
Coach Alex Anstine: Kiley RathjenKileyRathjenMHCentenial | 2021StateNE-was our starting setter for 3 years and her senior year Jaci Opfer transferred in from Seward. Kiley was willing to do whatever was needed for our team. Her senior year she learned a brand new position (middle) which isn’t the easiest to learn in a year. She was a key reason why our team was so successful this year. She was on the bench she was always encouraging her teammates and was always seeking out ways to get better. Not only did learn a new position but she was very successful especially at the end of the season when it mattered most. My favorite memory of her is when we were playing Thayer Central in the district final and it went 5 sets. We were up 14-10 with Thayer serving and I called a time out to end their rally and get one more point. I asked the girls who wanted the ball. Kiley was the first one to raise her hand and guess what, she took care of business and we won the match.
Sydnie Briggs, Cassie Rathbone, Carli Schneider, Maggie Vetick | 2021 | Columbus Lakeview
Coach K.C. Belitz: These are outstanding senior leaders! Cassie always had a smile on her face and supported her teammates. Carli stood out because she handled a lot of the off-season and off-the-court leadership responsibilities. And I can say for both of them, filling the role of senior leader when you’re not rewarded with a lot of playing time is never easy!
Same could be said of Maggie Vetick and Sydnie Briggs. These seniors put their team first, were always cheering on their team, sacrificed their own playing time, and were rewarded with a lot of team success.
Maggie Vetick and Sydnie Briggs both helped fill that critical role of “team mom”: Keeping everyone together, organized, listening when a teammate needs to talk. These two were so supportive of their teammates…and worked hard in practice every day this season. Those things all matter, but they don’t get mentioned very often in stories about the team’s matches.
Haileigh MoutrayHaileighMoutray5'6" | OHCross County | 2022NE | 2022 | 5’6 | OH | Cross County
Coach Autumn Capler: She really is one of the hardest workers I have been able to coach. She is always giving everything she’s got. It doesn’t matter if we are in the weight room, playing a game, or at practice. She treats every opportunity the same and doesn’t ever waste a chance to get better! She has had to overcome a lot of adversity in her life so far and has always handled everything with poise and dignity. She constantly has a positive outlook on things and she never uses anything she is dealing with as an excuse. She is more mature than any 16-year-old girl should have to be and I am extremely proud of her!
Lexi Bacon | 2022 | Elmwood-Murdock
Coach Nichole Justesen: Our unsung hero is Lexi Bacon. Lexi is a junior and has played a different role for the team every year. Lexi’s freshman year she played a middle hitter despite only being 5’8. Her sophomore year she did a fantastic job as a bro, accumulating 184 digs in a little over a third of varsity season. In her junior year, she was needed as an outside hitter. She took 586 serve receives, 267 digs, and 137 kills. She has not received any volleyball awards because she is just a well rounded consistent player who fills in where the team needs her. Lexi is in the top 5 in her class and participates in student council and FBLA.
Coach Megan Plumbtree: McKenzie is Fullerton’s unsung hero because she is a very unselfish player. She brings a subtle calm and consistency to our team. We missed her terribly at the end of our season, as she was quarantined due to COVID.
Emily Cornwell | 2023 | 5’4 | S | Gothenburg
Coach Bryson Mahlberg: She does so much for our team that doesn’t show up in the stat column. She is the mom of our team with such a high volleyball IQ. An unbelievable teammate that will do anything for her team. Emily is the type of player you want in your program, because you know she is there for the right reasons.
GRAND ISLAND CENTRAL CATHOLIC
Gracie WoodsGracieWoods6'0" | OHGrand Island CC | 2023StateNE | 2023 | 6’0 | OH | GICC
Coach Sharon Zavala: Gracie played with a torn labrum this season. At times it was painful so we couldn’t let her swing in practice so that she could get through a game. She still was our 3rd leading hitter this season with lots of soft shots and just by placing her attacks. We played her on the rightside so she wouldn’t get as many sets as on the outside. She was our leading passer and I did not ever let her serve. She has very good hands so her setting on the rightside was an asset to our team.
She is a very good basketball player also and decided to miss this bball season to have the surgery she needs to repair her shoulder. They say it is 8 months before she can swing again so club season is out for her also. With her shoulder healthy I have no doubt that Gracie will fulfill her dream to play college volleyball.
Chloe CloudChloeCloud6'2" | MHGrand Island Central Catholic | 2022StateNE | 2022 | 6’1 MH | GICC
Coach Sharon Zavala: Chloe CloudChloeCloud6'2" | MHGrand Island Central Catholic | 2022StateNE lost her mother unexpectedly last July. She has 3 other siblings and it was a shock to all of us because her mother was so involved in our school and church. Chloe has a senior brother and another brother that is a 6th grader. The youngest sister is only in 3rd grade so Chloe has extra responsibilities to help out with her siblings.
She has a big presence on the court and is the kindest of kids that I know. I can only imagine the adjustments and sorrow that this family has gone through. The kindness and generosity of our GICC family has been amazing. Chloe has a goal to play volleyball in college – she as yet is undecided as to where.
Our GICC family raised $27,000 in memory of Karen Cloud to help Chloe’s family. The amount of generosity was amazing and shows what kind of a person Karen was and what the Cloud family means to all of us.
HARTINGTON CEDAR CATHOLIC
Gracie Dickes | 2021
Coach Denae Buss: Although Gracie played in almost every set, I know Gracie’s role changed drastically from the hope of being a 6 rotation player to being a role player on the right side. However, Gracie stepped in during injuries, she led with extreme poise and hard work. Our team cannot thank her enough for accepting her role and putting the team first while finding ways to contribute in significant ways. Anyone can tell she is a very loved player on our team by her teammates and will be sorely missed next season.
Olivia Hamilton | 2022
Coach Denae Buss: Olivia did one of the hardest things a player is asked to do. Make no mistake, Olivia is a very capable starting varsity setter. This year she started as our setter and transitioned into a serving specialist. Even though that was extremely hard to do, she did it with the team in mind and helped keep the team moving towards the state tournament. We are forever grateful to her for being able to push through and we will be seeing her compete for a starting setter spot again this coming season.
Kyla HrdlickaKylaHrdlicka5'5" | SMead | 2021NE | 2021 | All positions! | Mead
Coach Keshia Havelka: I nominated Kyla because she is the very definition of a role player throughout her four years at Mead. Kyla waited patiently for her turn to enter the starting lineup serving as a backup setter throughout her 3 previous seasons. She was a backup setter to a younger player but she never once let that get in her way of helping us be the best we could be. She also worked hard on other aspects of her game to help her have a shot in a starting position this season. She had to focus on always being ready to be a setter but also developed her hitting and passing game. By the end of our season, she was hitting on the right side for one rotation and serving before being rotated out. It wasn’t ideal for her but she never once waivered in her commitment to the team. She ended the season being one of our most effective servers (41 aces in the season and finished with 79 digs) and an emotional leader for us on the bench/court. She developed a “coach’s eye” and really was able to communicate to our hitters what was open on the opponent’s defense. I am grateful for everything that Kyla has given to our program over the last 4 years.
Jenna Schweitzer | 2021 | 5’6 | OH | Milford
Coach Emily Restau: This year’s Unsung Senior Award is going to be presented to a girl that never gave up, changed positions, played a position she may not have really wanted to, has an amazing work ethic, and is the best example of a team player. This player is one who usually left workouts and practices with a drenched shirt and a huge smile on her face. I know that she has a love for volleyball and is going to miss it. She took her role this year and excelled in it. She was always ready when you called her name and honestly, it did not matter what position. She would always work her hardest trying to improve herself and her teammates.
Jenna, I am so proud of the leadership that you have shown in the two years that I have known you. Your hard work never went unnoticed to me and I commend you for that. You were always working towards bettering yourself and your teammates. You are the perfect example of a versatile team player. You were always ready for any position and at any time of the game. You were in the game 100% and always so happy for your teammates. The team got better because you were a huge part of it and I am forever grateful that I got to be your coach and apart of your life.
Brianna StaiBriannaStai5'11" | MHNorris | 2021StateNE | 2021 | 6’0 | MH | Norris
Coach Christina Boesiger: Bri’s first love is basketball, but she just worked her tail off to become a great middle blocker. Rightside has always been her position, but she knew we needed a middle this year, and she gladly accepted the challenge. She led us in blocks this year with 75 ace blocks. There were many times this year, where Bri held the opposing blocker in the middle which created a 1 on 1 for our pin players. That is something that goes unnoticed by the majority of the people, but it was something that helped our team. She finished the year with 156 kills and a .327 hitting %. Over her career at Norris, she hit an impressive .321. I couldn’t be more thankful for Brianna, for her hard work and willingness to put the team before herself.
Mckenna LittleMckennaLittle5'8" | DSNorth Platte | 2021NE | 2021 | North Platte
Mckenna LittleMckennaLittle5'8" | DSNorth Platte | 2021NE is North Platte High School’s Unsung Hero for 2020. As a senior, McKenna averaged 6.8 kills per set and had a .241 hitting percentage. McKenna also held her own in her service rotation with 22 aces and a 93% serve percentage, with 103 digs on the season. McKenna was the foundation of our block. As a 5’8″ middle blocker, McKenna fought to close the block on every play. She averaged 1.3 blocks per set. McKenna was a leader in games, but also in practice. McKenna pushed herself to work hard, and demanded to be challenged in practice. She set high expectations of herself, and inspired that same work ethic in her teammates.
Aniah Wayne | 2021 | 5’8 | MH | Omaha Central
Coach Angela Thorn: Aniah Wayne is the type of player you want 10 of. She will give you max effort at all times. Aniah is someone that is willing to play at any position. Her positivity and leadership can carry a team! Aniah Wayne! One of the best kids around!
Teja Farley | 5’0 | DS | Syracuse
Coach Courtney VanGroningen: Teja Farley is truly an amazing young lady. She has committed herself to volleyball since elementary school. She builds strong relationships with just about everyone she meets. Besides maintaining an incredible academic load, she was a remarkable asset to the Rocket volleyball team. Although Teja did not seen the court much as a varsity player, her role on our team is just as crucial as anyone else’s. She came to practices every day, worked hard, and pushed her teammates to become better athletes. More importantly though, she has a way of uniting and uplifting her teammates when they need it most. As her coach, I’m so proud of both the athlete and person she has become and I look for Teja to do some phenomenal things on her new journey after high school. I cannot think of anyone more deserving of this honor!