Posted On: 01/6/21 5:25 PM
We endured snowstorms and icy roads the week before to prepare for the Prep Dig Resolution Tournament. As I traveled Hwy. 10 East to Appleton, my anticipation was growing. There is just something about the first tournament of the year. The past year has been chaotic in itself. Across the country, there has been disappointments, lost seasons, deaths, tumultuous racial divide, and an election that will surely be talked about in history lessons to come. Everyone learned something in 2020.
I am a planner and constantly on the go as a single mom, multiple jobs, and a hard time saying “no”. I had to learn to roll with the punches and realize that it was ok NOT to be busy. I got into diamond painting, started homeschooling my daughter, and took advantage of the awesome webinar and Livestream opportunities to become a better coach. Every team I coach I make a point to learn something new to become a better coach, and this year I got an extra opportunity to do that. I typically coach the high school ages, but during tryouts for the younger teams, I was asked if I was willing to step in to help with our 13’s team.
It’s been a few years since I’ve coached a middle school group, but with some great guidance, reminders, and a super start assistant, we managed to create a pretty great start to their season. My roles as a Media Development Director and Head Coach at Wisconsin Ice and as a writer/scout for Prep Dig have given me opportunities to connect with the volleyball community locally and from all over the state. I’ve been able to grow connections with college, club, and high school coaches and watch previous players continue to grow within this amazing game. The Prep Dig Resolution was officially my first 13’s Club Tournament as a coach and here are some thoughts.
I’ve seen many younger teams play, but this was my first time really seeing the Class of 2026. One thing I love about the 13’s and 14’s is that they have not gotten too overly specialized yet. Players are still trying out positions, learning what natural strengths or weaknesses they may have, and when you get them to focus, they can be super sponges for information! You see a number of teams with players who will be a setter in one set, a 6-rotation outside hitter the next set, and then libero the next match. There were some crazy natural athletes who make it all look pretty easy and they have such a bright future as potential setters who can swing, six-rotation outsides, and liberos that can take the 2nd contact.
The overall ball control was extremely impressive for such young players. These athletes have some of the best coaches at any level, hands down. They are constantly learning from each other and focused on teaching the all-around game, which shows when they get to the high school level.
I’ve been to quite a few volleyball facilities in Wisconsin and it’s been a few years since I’ve been to The Barn. After spending a couple of days there, I have to say it is a great practice facility and really perfect for tournaments with the limited spectator restrictions in place. This is the type of place that would be a much-needed addition in areas all over the state, especially central Wisconsin, where clubs are at the mercy of the availability of school gyms.
A Few Athletes Who Really Stood Out
This was so exciting for me to see the future of volleyball in Wisconsin. I went into this without a clear idea of what to expect, and what I saw was really exciting. I saw really solid all-around play, along with so many athletes making the slight adjustments their coaches asked of them and the payoff was huge! I absolutely LOVE the positive body language and encouragement with each other.
Emerson Lange – Wisconsin Ice 14 Black
Lange was an explosive surprise for this team. It just felt like she would come out of nowhere to make a dig to keep the rally alive or come flying into the middle and use the opposing blockers for the kill.
Emily Lillge – FVP 14-Green
Lillge stood out as a strong presence at the net. She has the height, as well as the contact and spacing, that sets her up for a bright future as a middle blocker.
Evelyn Wall-Perkins – FC Elite 14 White
Not only does Wall-Perkins have a strong presence at the net, but she is already proficient and working both sidelines as a middle. She is explosive, powerful, and will be fun to watch in high school next year!
Morgan Stewart – FC Elite 14 White
Stewart is smooth and smart, but the best part is her enthusiasm! Whether she got the kill or not, she was ecstatic for her team. Stewart will be a big future playmaker and spark plug!
Super Athletic Wisconsin Ice 14 Purple
It’s hard to find a weak spot with this squad. Between their middles that dominate the net, their springy six-rotation outsides, super athletic setters, and incredible ball control and scrappiness, this will be a group to keep an eye on as they get into high school next year.
Find photos from The Barn HERE