Destination: state tournament
A big "No. 1" was painted on the Wadena-Deer Creek Wolverines this summer shortly after a June 17 tornado had destroyed their home court.
Breakdown's no. 1 state ranking was a terrific dose of good medicine for the Wolverines who will be reaching for their third straight state tournament trip in November.
Sue Volkmann's Wolverines are coming off a season that saw them claim consolation honors in the Class AA state tournament.
The only player they lost to graduation was middle hitter Kelly DeFoe, so the Wolverines knew 10 months ago that they were going to be trouble for anyone they meet this season.
"They realize they can compete with the best teams in the state this year," said Volkmann. "They want to stay focused and get back to the state tournament."
The Wolverines will start 10 and will rotate their players to keep their competition on their heels.
Courtney Volkmann gives the Wolverines an all-state tournament star at setter. Volkmann is starting her fifth season and gives the team a great quarterback.
"The kids really look to her for leadership," Volkmann said.
Senior Kelsi Crawford is a third-year starter and the team's most powerful outside hitter. Crawford had a superb state tournament last year and joined Volkmann on the all-state tournament team.
"She is definitely going to be our strongest power hitter," Volkmann said. "She is getting more consistent all the time and she's just a real competitor."
Rachel Craig is also back for her third season as a starter and gives the Wolverines a solid middle hitter.
"She is an outstanding blocker and this year I look for her to be more of a hitter," Volkmann said.
Senior Rachel Carlisle will be playing an outside hitter spot for the third straight year. Volkmann sais she feels Carlisle is the "glue" that keeps her team together on the court.
The Wolverines have a solid third-year defensive standout in senior Mandy Perkins.
"She is just a real, real good defensive player," Volkmann said. "She doesn't get rattled."
Junior Brittney Noon gives the Wolverines another third-year hitter on the outside. Like Crawford, Noon can put a lot of smoke on the ball but she is also a good finesse hitter. Noon seems to be at her best when the chips are down.
"It seems like the tougher the situation we get into the better she is," Volkmann said.
Defense is where Volkmann expects her team to really shine this season. In addition to Perkins, the Wolverines have junior Avery Jackson, sophomore Caitlin Volkmann and freshman Hope Theisen.
"Our defense is our strength," Volkmann said.
Thiesen is the club's libero and Volkmann ranks her as an outstanding defensive player. The second-year player is noted for going after every shot.
Jackson and Volkmann both play left back on defense. Like Theisen, Jackson gives 110 percent. Volkmann is one of the team's best players in serve-receive.
Emily Miron gives the Wolverines some great height at the net and Volkmann plans to let her play a middle hitter spot.
Volkmann sees Dilworth-Glyndon-Felton as the toughest team in north half of Section 8AA this fall and rates Perham as a strong contender in the south half.