Carsten kills it in return to the court

Wadena-Deer Creek has some big hurdles coming up with games against Detroit Lakes Sept. 21 then Henning on Sept. 23.

Lauren Gravelle (left) and Madison Carsten extend to stop a hit from Bertha-Hewitt player Ashley Warren on Thursday, Sept. 16, 2021, in Wadena. Michael Johnson/Pioneer Journal

WADENA — It was hard to take the smiles off the faces of the Wolverine volleyball team Thursday night as the group was sizzling thanks in part to the return of ace Madison Carsten, who tallied 16 kills.

The team defeated Bertha-Hewitt 3-0 in their first meeting this season.

Derailed by a torn ACL and both menisci in her right knee during the last basketball season, Madison was finally given the OK to let loose on offense about nine months later. She's played some defense in the last couple outings, but the sight of her leaping up to smack a ball back precisely between the Bears defense brought a boost of confidence and laughter back to the team. Holding back throughout the early season was tough for her as she truly loves to play the game.

"I've been waiting for this for a while," Madison said. "Hopefully next week some time I can go back to all the way around to what I normally do."

Having to watch from the bench in the first games of the season brought mixed emotions for the junior.


"It's been really hard," Madison said. "I just love to play. I love to be out there. It just makes me feel so energized. Watching my teammates out there, I love watching them, but I also wished that I could have been out there playing. Now, finally I am."

Seeing Madison return to that leadership role was a welcome sight for head coach Sue Volkmann.

"She's more than ready to go, finally got the go ahead and she'll be playing all the way around now," Volkmann said.

The team now needs their libero Ashley Lepinski back to full health and they should be at their best.

Of course, it wasn't just the Madison show. Her sister Montana was hard at work scooping up 14 digs to keep the Bears from scoring. Kaylin Lupkes dug up another 6.

Also killing it in the game was Lauren Gravelle with 8, while Payton Gravelle and Summer Pettit threw down 6 kills a piece.

Addy Gravelle and Katrina Moench continue to show strength in their serving with 2 aces a piece.

The team now has an overall 4-6 record and is 2-0 in their conference.


Emily Lepinski blasts a ball back at the Bertha-Hewitt Bears Thursday, Sept, 16, 2021. Also at the ready for the Wolverines are Addyson Gravelle (from left), Summer Pettit, Lauren Gravelle and Montana Carsten. Michael Johnson/Pioneer Journal

Wadena 25,25, 25
Bertha-Hewitt 11, 15, 12
Kills - Madison Carsten-16, Lauryn Gravelle-8, Payton Gravelle-6, Summer Pettit-6, Emily Lepinski-3
Digs - Montana Carsten-14, Kaylin Lupkes-6, Addy Gravelle-4, Madison Carsten-4, Katrina Moench-3, Kayla Kircher-3, Emily Lepinski-2, Lauryn Gravelle-2
Aces - Addy Gravelle-2, Katrina Moench-2, Madison Carsten-1, Montana Carsten-1
Blocking - Lauryn Gravelle-2, Madison Carsten-2, Summer Pettit-1
Setting Assists - 36

Michael Johnson is the news editor for Agweek. He lives in the city of Verndale, Minn., but is bent on making it as country as he can until he returns once more to the farm living he enjoys. Also living the dream are his two children and wife.
You can reach Michael at or 218-640-2312.
What To Read Next
Get Local