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Wolverines have lofty goals

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Photo by Brian Hansel Hope Theisen practices her overhand move during a Wadena-Deer Creek volleyball practice session.2 / 2

Sue Volkmann's Wadena-Deer Creek Wolverines have their sights set high this fall.

And why not?

After years of knocking at the door the WDC volleyers kicked it down last year and marched into the state tournament at the Xcel Energy Center.

Sue Volkmann's club is ranked ninth in the state's Class AA poll as the season begins. As Section 8AA champions, it will be up to contenders like Dilworth-Glyndon-Felton and Roseau to unseat them. It is a status that a WDC team has not enjoyed since the 1992 season.

The Wolverines have all but three of their varsity players back in the ranks. The toughest player to replace will be all-state middle hitter Brigetta Berg, who is playing this fall for Division II Southwest State. The Wolverines must also find a replacement for Steph Perkins and a server who can put the ball in play like Amy Brown.

Kelly DeFoe is the club's only senior. The tall middle hitter is a third-year starter and she gives the Wolverines a quiet but consistent player.

The junior ranks include fourth-year starting setter Courtney Volkmann, outside hitter Kelsi Crawford, libero Mandy Perkins, outside hitter Rachael Carlisle, middle hitter Rachel Craig and role players Keeley Timm and Haley Kellogg.

Volkmann shared team MVP honors with Berg last year.

"Everything runs through her," Volkmann said.

Crawford will be a left side hitter and a big scorer. Crawford suffered a bad ankle sprain during the season and only saw limited action in the section and state tournaments.

Perkins is set for replace her sister as the team's top defensive player.

"She is Miss Consistent," Volkmann said. "She reads real well."

Carlisle will see action on the right side and Volkmann does not expect too many mistakes from her.

Craig is a 6-0 inside presence with good intelligence and a hunger to keep improving her game.

Volkmann has two dynamite outside hitters in sophomores Brittney Noon and Avery Jackson. Noon earned all-conference honor last year. She proved to be an excellent hitter and a valuable player in the section where she took a lot of the load off Berg.

Jackson is a "fireball" on defense.

"She plays hard," Volkmann said. "You know when she's out there she is going to go for everything."

Freshman Caitlin Volkmann is another fiery player who has a passion for defense.

Eighth-grader Hope Theisen also has a lot of defensive ability and should see action at left back defense.

Volkmann may lack the kind of senior leadership she had last year but the veteran head coach is not worried.

"We have a lot of juniors and they're going to come to the front," Volkmann said.