Photo courtesy of Matt Mead.
The initial PrepDig rankings for this year’s senior class in Minnesota highlight just how strong the state has become in producing top-shelf college talent. Ten of our top-14 ranked seniors have already committed to D-1 programs, including a pair who are headed to Michigan (Eden Prairie outside hitter Grace Persson and Prior Lake middle Kayla Bair, both of whom are also teammates on the Minnesota Select 18-1 team this summer).
But what really catches attention is the high number of talented setters the state continues to churn out.
The top-ranked Class of 2018 player is Rocori setter Eleanor Holthaus, a narrow choice of our staff over Eagan’s multi-tooled outside hitter McKenna Melville. Both are dynamic players who could excel at virtually every position on the court. As a junior, Holthaus had triple-digit totals in kills (263), digs (103), and set assists (289) and has committed to Iowa State. Holthaus is also a multi-sport athlete who enjoys track and field and has also played varsity basketball in the past. She’s the latest in a long line of outstanding setters to come through the state’s high school ranks in recent years.
Consider that two of the last three Miss Volleyball winners were setters — Hopkins’ Sam Seliger-Swenson in 2014 and Champlin Park’s Sydney Hilley (who admittedly, also attacked quite a bit) last fall. As a sophomore at the University of Minnesota last fall, Seliger-Swenson was named the Big Ten’s Setter of the Year and was a first team All-American. Hilley is headed to the University of Wisconsin as their latest elite recruit, but had plenty of in-state competition as the top high school setter in the class of 2017, particularly from Eagan’s Brie Orr (University of Iowa) and Roseville’s Bre Maloney (Winona State).
Other top-25 ranked setters following Holthaus in our Class of 2018 rankings include Willmar’s Esther Grussing (Ball State) at No. 7, Tara Lee of Hopkins at No. 12, Mayer Lutheran’s Maddy Hucky at No. 18, Hayfield’s Maggie Streightiff at No. 19, Lakeville South’s Syd Case (Nebaska-Omaha) at No. 24, and Karly Fehr of Morris Area/Chokio-Alberta at No. 25.
Other highlights from the initial Class of 2018 rankings:
JO club powerhouses
The top of the rankings are dominated by players from the dynamite Northern Lights 17-1 and Minnesota Select 18-1 teams, as they combine for 12 of the top 14 positions in the rankings. Northern Lights holds the top two spots with Holthaus and Melville (Central Florida), but MN Select has the next three (third-ranked Prior Lake libero CC McGraw in addition to previously-mentioned Persson and Bair).
Wildcats strike again
Defending Class AAA state champion Eagan is featured prominently in the rankings, with three of our top-40 seniors, all of whom have committed to colleges already. In addition to Melville at No. 2, 5-foot-10 outside hitter Ally Murphy (North Dakota State) is ranked No. 22 and 5-foot-11 outside hitter Anne Wong (Cornell) is at No. 39.
Small school strengths
Many of the top seniors come from the big schools in Class AAA and Class AA, but there is great talent in the smallest of the state’s schools. Windom Area’s Porsha Porath, a 6-foot-1 outside hitter for the Eagles and club Kairos Elite 17 Adidas, is the highest-ranked of the Class A players, holding the No. 10 spot in our initial rankings. Porath racked up 436 kills and 42 service aces for her high school last year and was dominant at the net. Behind Porath in Class A are two of the top setters in Hucky at No. 18 and Streightiff at No. 19.