Midseason Report: 10-ish Best All-Around Ballers
Photo credit: Grand Island Independent
We’ve hit the mid-season point for high school volleyball in Nebraska, and with that it’s time to look at who the standouts have been through the first half of the year.
We start by taking a look at the 10-ish best performances so far by players I like to just call ballers. They do a little bit of everything and are the kind of players you have to have to be successful. Keep in mind this isn’t a mid-season all-state team or anything like that. There is still a lot of season left and many, many big matches. This is simply a look at 10-ish standouts, listed alphabetically, so far this year.
Cecilia Beahm, 5’11 junior, Hastings
Beahm is about as athletic as any player in the state and the driving force behind one of the best Hastings teams of all time as the Tigers are off to a 123-5 start. Beahm, a Hastings College recruit, has six double-doubles on the season and has 229 kills (4.8 per set) and 152 digs (3.2 per set) to go along with her 20 solo blocks.
Alexa Blasé, 6’0 senior, Grand Island
Blase, an Omaha recruit, has been on fire as of late, leading the Islanders to a 4-1 mark in their last five matches. The senior has had double-digit kills in her last five matches and in 10 of the 19 matches overall for the Islanders. She’s averaging 4.4 kills per set in her last five matches and has 204 kills for the year (4.2 per set) to go with 103 digs.
Jessie Brandl, 5’7 junior, Stanton
Brandl is in the middle of pretty much everything for the 17-2 Mustangs. The junior has 180 kills (3.9 per set) to go with 155 digs (3.3 per set) and is hitting at a .321 clip. She is also serving at a 94.8 percent with a 30:10 ace-to-error ratio.
Bree Burtwistle, 5’9 junior, Stanton
This reason why Stanton has been so good in recent years is because they have some of the best all-around players in the state. Rarely is the ball on the Mustangs’ half of the court without Burtwistle getting a touch. Burtwistle has 269 assists (5.8 per set), 163 kills (3.5 per set) and 108 digs (2.3 per set).
Ally Glaser, 5’9 senior, Papillion-LaVista
Glaser may not lead her team in any statistical categories or jump out at you in post-game stats, but she is the epitome of a “baller.” A three-year starter for the Monarchs, Glaser is hitting .275 on the year with 81 kills. The Concordia recruit simply makes plays wherever she’s at on the court and is even capable of setting or getting a block.
Taliyah Flores, 5’8 senior, Papillion-LaVista South
Flores is clearly one of the best full-rotation players in the state which is why she lands on this list. Ordinarily she would be an elite-level high school libero – which she is headed to North Dakota to be – but her athletic ability also makes her one of the best attackers in the state. She has 304 kills and 304 digs (4.2 per set) on the year for the Titans.
Emily Krolikowski, 5’11 senior, Centura
There are a lot of under-the-radar players in the state that are tremendous players, but not many are better than Krolikowski, a Hastings College recruit. She does a little bit of everything for the Centurions, leading the team with 193 kills (3.9 per set) while hitting .402 on the season. She also has 44 blocks on the year – including 27 solo – and 209 digs (4.3 per set).
Elly Larson, 5’11 senior, Wahoo
There are few more complete players in the state than Larson for the 19-1 Warriors. She is hitting .274 on the season with 163 kills (3.5 per set) with 12 solo blocks and 140 digs (3.0 per set). She also serves at 92.4 percent with 27 aces.
Bailey Lukasiewicz, 5’4 senior, St. Paul
Lukeasiewicz was an all-state libero last year for the Wildcats, registering nearly 700 kills as the team reached the state quarterfinals. But, with graduation and injuries, the 5’4 Lukasiewicz has been asked to move to an outside hitter position and her versatility to production has helped lead St. Paul to a 15-5 mark this year.
Kristin Lux, 6’2 senior, North Bend
Much like Flores, Lux is one of the best all-around players in the state because she is a weapon for the undefeated Tigers regardless where she is at on the floor. There West Virginia recruit has bounced back from a broken arm during the spring to again be one of the top players in the state. She has the ability to rise above any block and her defense is impressive for a player her height.
Taryn Mayfield, 5’10 senior, Grand Island Northwest
Mayfield is an explosive athlete that does it all for the Vikings. She leads the Vikings with 149 kills (2.8 per set) and service aces with 30 and is second on the team in digs with 282 (5.2 per set) and serve receptions with 247.
Mary Nibbe, 6’2 junior, Red Cloud
The multitalented setter/right side for Red Cloud has helped lead the program into uncharted waters. She had more than 200 kills, digs and assists last year as a sophomore to lead the Warriors to their first-ever state tournament. She’s having another standout year as a junior and has helped lead Red Cloud to a mark of 18-2.
Claire Ostrand, 5’9 senior, Nebraska Christian
The Eagles are one of only three undefeated teams left in the state and Ostrand’s versatility and talent is a big reason why. The senior leads the team with 140 kills and 140 digs (3.4 per set) and is third on the team in serve receptions with 441.
Erin Rose-Gronewold, 5’4 senior, Waverly
I’m not really sure you can slap any position label on the Waverly senior, which is why she’s officially just a baller. At her size you naturally assume she is a back-row player and her 316 digs and 216 serve receptions this year for the Vikings shows she’s a standout on defense, but now she is playing full rotation and has 24 kills in Waverly’s last five matches and she has 25 aces on the season.
Jensen Rowse, 5’8 sophomore, Minden
Rowse could be the starting setter for a vast majority of teams around the state, but the Whippets get a lot out of her as an outside hitter. In fact, Jensen is among the state leaders in kills with 307 (5.0 per set) while also leading her team with 30 aces and is second on the team with 248 digs and 358 serve receptions.
Bailee Sterling, 5’11 senior, Kearney
The Northern Colorado recruit is one of the most impressive players in Class A and has done it all in helping lead Kearney to a 14-9 record this year. Sterling has 192 kills (3.3 per set), 19 blocks and 192 digs. In a big win over Hastings earlier this year Sterling had 18 kills and 5 aces.
Rachel Walker, 5’9 senior, Lincoln Southwest
No player may more fit the description of being a “baller” than Walker. She’s simply a fierce competitor that can do anything on the court and do it exceptionally well. The Wayne State recruit has helped lead Lincoln Southwest to an 18-2 record so far with 45 kills, 28 aces, 22 blocks, 115 digs and 521 assists.
Emma Worthington, 5’10, junior, Omaha Duchesne
Speaking of players that do everything and do it well, that’s the case with Duchesne’s Worthington. As a setter/right side, she is tied for the team lead with 143 kills for the 16-1 Cardinals while being second with 34 aces and 16 blocks. She also has 76 digs and a team-best 320 assists.