Posted On: 05/5/21 3:39 PM

The Prep Dig Battle In The Valley brought in plenty of athletes who will be playing at the next level.  The 17/18s Division was full of athletes across all age levels that were big time contributors this past weekend and will be ones to watch over the course of the summer as college camps start back up, more visits will be happening, and the Class of 2023’s can start their recruiting process interacting with more college coaches.  Here are a few names to keep tabs on based on what we witnessed this weekend at Battle in the Valley. 


Kierney McDonald Kierney McDonald 6'0" | MB Rockridge (IL) | 2022 State IA and Noelle Smith - Iowa Select 17 Mizuno 

Iowa Select has a roster full of future college athletes.  They held off Wisconsin 17 Premier Teal in the finals to claim the title.  Kierney McDonald Kierney McDonald 6'0" | MB Rockridge (IL) | 2022 State IA Smith[/caption] Maaaajor sleeper and needs to be on the radar for 2022s Kierney McDonald Kierney McDonald 6'0" | MB Rockridge (IL) | 2022 State IA of @iowaselectvbc 17 Mizuno. Long, athletic and so deadly on the slide #PDBattleInTheValley — Chris Fitzgerald (@PrepDigChris) May 2, 2021 Kierney McDonald Kierney McDonald 6'0" | MB Rockridge (IL) | 2022 State IA and Noelle Smith - Iowa Select 17 Mizuno  Iowa Select has a roster full of future college athletes.  They held off Wisconsin 17 Premier Teal in the finals to claim the title.  Kierney McDonald Kierney McDonald 6'0" | MB Rockridge (IL) | 2022 State IA and Noelle Smith were the middle blocking tandem for Select where Northwest Missouri State commit Ella Caffery Ella Caffery 5'9" | S Wilton | 2022 State IA made sure to find them.  McDonald is fast and can run a quick tempo in front or can be very deadly on the slide.  She knows how to go deep to the corners and was so efficient.  Smith is an athlete, very strong who can power through the split offensively and is also a presence defensively where she can move quickly laterally and also get her hands up to press, creating a problem for opposing attackers.  Estelle Harsh - Impact 17 Black  Harsh preps at DeLaSalle in the heart of Downtown Minneapolis where she was a major point scorer from the outside this past weekend.  A loose arm, high contact point, and the ability to find ways around the block was the name to her game for Impact 17 Black which consists of athletes around the Twins Cities Metro.  A six rotation player who can swing from anywhere on the court was the key going 3-0 on Day 1.  Impact 17 Black will be in Des Moines this upcoming weekend for the JVA Midwest Challenge.  Impact 17 Black bringing the 🔥🔥🔥 from MN today! Super athletic squad. Going for Gold tomorrow! — Chris Fitzgerald (@PrepDigChris) May 1, 2021 Violet Hackbarth - Impact 17 Black  Hackbarth brings a high motor to the middle blocker position.  She is constantly moving whether its to close a block, transitioning, or getting to the pin to crush a slide.  I love watching middles like this because they are relentless in how they work and will do the little things to help their team out.  Only fitting we are going to three with @wispremiervball 17 Teal and @iowaselectvbc 17 Mizuno — Chris Fitzgerald (@PrepDigChris) May 2, 2021   Elise Gillen Elise Gillen 5'9" | S Slinger | 2022 State WI - Wisconsin Premier 17 Teal  Gillen makes it happen for Premier.  She is such a catalyst for their success as a 5-1 setter who keeps it simple.  With great footwork and a smooth release she puts herself in position to put up the best possible ball for her attackers.  She connects extremely well with pins Stella Zarling Stella Zarling 5'9" | OH Kettle Moraine Lutheran | 2022 State WI and Taylor Larsen as well as middle Gabriella Magee Gabriella Magee MB Homestead | 2022 State WI .  This team has been playing together for quite some time and their chemistry really shows.   Photo: Prep Dig Emma Grueneberg - Wisconsin Premier 17 Teal  Huge impact on the right side, Grueneberg is a lefty swinging hard from the right side.  There were plenty of times where Gillen would flip it back to Grueneberg and she would come up with a big kill.  Heavy ball, tough to block and defensively Grueneberg puts up a solid block herself.  She was a consistent contributor in all situations for this squad who will be looking to have a big summer with a bid secured for USAV Nationals.  Photo: Prep Dig Impact 17 National  There was a lot of “Impact” this weekend with Impact out of St. Paul, MN and Impact out of Appleton.  The 17 National squad out of Appleton were points away from breaking through to the final four taking Wisconsin Premier 17 Teal to 33-31 in set two.  Cadence Maxfield Cadence Maxfield 5'8" | S Notre Dame Academy | 2022 State WI is a 2022 setter who is a physical athlete who can defend her position and make a huge presence at the net as a setter.  Kenzi Benter was a major contributor from the right side and backrow.  The 2022 right side/setter combo has a big swing and a laser serve.  This team also has some 2023’s playing up in Marissa Corso Marissa Corso MB Neenah | 2023 State WI , Elise Checkalski Elise Checkalski DS/L Appleton North | 2023 State WI , and Elayna Christensen Elayna Christensen 5'10" | DS/L Freedom | 2023 State WI .  Corso plays out of the middle and can find ways to score points and Checkalski anchors the backrow as a libero and was a member of the Appleton North state championship squad two weeks ago in the alternate season finals.  Anna Kieselhorst - River City 18 Blue  Kieselhorst makes the libero position look effortless and easy, a quiet platform, being in the right spot, and passing a ball her setter can do something with is all part of her game.  She plays her high school ball at Watertown Luther Prep who has plenty of weapons and will be ones to watch this upcoming fall. Kieselhorst can also step in and set if she needs to.  She is only a 2023 and new on our radar, but will definitely be one to watch the next couple seasons.  Ava Dean Ava Dean 5'6" | S McFarland | 2024 State WI - FFC 18s Dean is only Freshman and first popped up on the radar when she came down to the Prep Dig Top 250.  A solid all around athlete, Dean is also a standout basketball player as well. She is playing for FFC 18s which is a squad out of the Madison area coached by volleyball legend, Rod Wilde.  Dean is showing early intangibles of being an elite setter with her court command and athletic ability to adjust and put up a hittable ball to her teammates in and out of system.  Definitely a name to remember to keep tabs on in the Class of 2024.  Caylee Brandes Caylee Brandes 6'0" | OH Moline (IL) | 2023 State IA - Iowa Select 18 Mizuno  Brandes is from the Class of 2023 and was a major point scorer for the Iowa Select 18 Mizuno squad who ran into the 17s in the semifinals taking them to three sets.  A solid, outside hitter who can defend and serve receive as well, Brandes hits a heavy ball which makes it tough for the other side to play it back cleanly.  Iowa Select has a strong core of athletes from Iowa and Illinois where Brandes is from the Illinois side of the Quad Cities and preps at Moline High School.  This weekend was a MOVIE! So much talent in the building- these young athletes put on incredible performances all weekend long. #PDBattleInTheValley @BaxterColburn ⤵️@PrepDigChris @prepdigrachel @breitnelson @PrepDigWI @PrepDig — Prep Dig Events (@PrepDigEvents) May 3, 2021

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