Class D-2 Preview, Rankings and Preseason All-State Team
Exeter-Milligan already figured to have a tough path to repeating as Class D-2 champions in 2018, with the team it beat for the title – Ewing – returning a strong core. Now, though, a pair of teams that made the…
Exeter-Milligan already figured to have a tough path to repeating as Class D-2 champions in 2018, with the team it beat for the title – Ewing – returning a strong core.
Now, though, a pair of teams that made the state-tournament field in Class D-1 last year have dropped down into D-2 and suddenly things got a whole lot tougher.
Both Bertrand and BDS are now in Class D-2 and figure to be among the top teams this season. BDS finished third in Class D-1 last year while Bertrand fell in the first round to three-time champion Johnson-Brock.
Here is our initial Class D-2 rankings with a little bit about each team. Remember, starting this fall Class D-2 will utilize the sub-state system for postseason play.
#1 – BDS
BDS is the real deal and would have been highly ranked in Class D-1 if it had stayed up there. The Eagles went 28-6 a year ago while finishing third in the Class D-1 state tournament. Two of the more dynamic small-school players in the state lead the way for BDS in 5’6 senior Jadyn Kleinschmidt and 5’11 junior Regan Alfs. Just how dynamic are the two? Kleinschmidt pulled off a rare triple-double in the Class D-1 third-place match last year against Blue Hill, going for 11 kills, 19 digs and 18 assists. She also threw in five ace serves for good measure. Meanwhile, Alfs nearly had a triple-double as well, with 10 kills, seven digs, 15 assists and three blocks. Senior Emile Schardt also returns for BDS. BDS cemented its spot at the top with a strong summer, winning team camps at the Nebraska Top 10 and Nebraska-Kearney.
#2 – Ewing
Ewing returns a lot of firepower from last year’s Class D-2 runner-up team that went 32-3. A big blow is the loss of senior middle Bailey Schindler, who has earned playing time already as a freshman at Midland University. But, the Tigers bring back one of the best small-school setters in the state in senior Miranda Summers and their two kill leaders from the Class D-2 final last year – junior outside Ashley Koenig and junior middle Tiana Thramer. The Tigers also look to have quite a bit of depth with Sidney Stallbaum, a 5’10 junior, back this season as well as sophomore outside Brenna Wagner and senior defensive specialist/libero Jaidyn Schindler.
#3 – Exeter-Milligan
The Timberwolves bring back from excellent pieces from its state-title team, but also lost quite a bit. Gone are key contributors Hannah Beethe and Tara Mueller. Those two combined for 10 kills and 20 digs in the state final a year ago. However, Exter-Milligan returns perhaps the best player in Class D-2 this year in Katherine White, who had an 18-kill, 10-dig, six-ace performance in the championship in 2017. Also back are both setters – Anna Sluka and Daisy Kanode as well as Kate Jansky and Jaiden Papik. Freshman Cameran Jansky also looks like she could be a big contributor.
#4 – Mead
Mead is coming off a season in which it went 18-10 and lost to Exeter-Milligan in the opening round of the Class D-2 state tournament. And while the Raiders lost a couple big pieces in June Johnson and Jayden Haag, Mead also returns quite a bit and has one of the better freshmen in Class D. Josie Parham returns at setter after having 716 assists a year ago and Delaney Patockais the top returning kill leader with 121 and sophomore Rebecca Halbmaier also returns as does libero Michyla Lihs. The difference maker for the Raiders could be 6’0 freshman middle Brianna Lemke.
#5 – CWC
Here is pretty much all you need to know about CWC; The Renegades went 17-13 last season and lost in four sets in the subdistrict finals against Ewing with a team that had 10 – yes, 10 – freshmen on it. The young group is now a large, and talented sophomore group to go along with senior Jordan Laetschto make CWC a very dangerous crew in 2018. Laetsch had 178 kills a year ago and 112 digs. You need to really watch out for 5’10 junior Taylor Jean Peter as well, after she had 228 kills, 42 solo blocks and a team-best 163 digs. Morgan Ramseyis a 6’0 sophomore who had 195 kills as a freshman.
#6 – Falls City Sacred Heart
Sacred Heart went 18-12 a year ago and lost to Exeter-Milligan in the district finals. The Irish might be the tallest team in Class D-2 and there is quite a bit of talent in that height as well. Senior Elzabeth Keithly, a 6’1 right side, returns along with fellow seniors Randee Witt, a 5’7 setter, and Teresa Morehead, a libero. Erison Vonderschmidt is a 6’0 freshman and talented enough to play setter or middle.
#7 – Bertrand
The Vikings finished 20-10 last year and lost to Johnson-Brock in the first round of the Class D-1 state tournament. Lindsay Schutz, a 5’8 outside, returns as one of the top weapons for Bertrand and also back is defensive specialist Erin Boggs, as does junior rightside Jennica Dannehl.
#8 – Stuart
Stuart lost its final six games of the year in 2017 and finished at 10-16, but the Broncos look to have an athletic team capable of rebounding into a big year in 2018, returning six of their top eight players from a year ago.
#9 – Mullen
Mullen went 17-13 a year ago, reaching the Class D-2 state tournament where it lost to Ewing in the first round. Senior Alysen Daniels, a 5’8 outside, returns after a 280-kill year in 2017 while junior Kaitlyn Crowe and sophomore Samantha Moore each had more than 130 kills last year. Hayley Jones, a senior, also returns after leading the team in both assists and digs a year ago.
#10 – Red Cloud
After reaching the state tournament for the first time in school history in 2016, Red Cloud did it again last year and dropped an epic five-set match to Humphrey St. Francis in the opening round. If the Warriors are going to make it three years in a row, they will have to do it despite the graduation of last year’s Class D-2 POY Morgan Nibbe. Her younger sister, Mary Nibbe, however, is one of the state’s best seniors and the Concordia commit had 232 kills, 40 solo blocks and 306 assists last year. Also back is senior Julia Shipman, who had 148 kills and 262 digs a year ago. Hannah Vance and Kassidy Uhrich each had more than 100 digs in 2017.
Here is a look at our Class D-2 Preseason All-State Team
Setter – Mary Nibbe, 6’1, Jr., Red Cloud (committed to Concordia)
Setter – Miranda Summers, 5’8, Sr., Ewing
Hitter – Katherine White, 5’9, Sr., Exeter-Milligan (committed to Missouri Western)
Hitter – Jadyn Kleinschmidt, 5’6, Sr., BDS
Hitter – Marlee Taylor, 6’2, Sr., Sandhills-Thedford (committed to Hastings)
Hitter – Alysen Daniels, 5’6, Sr., Mullen
Hitter – Ashley Koenig, 5’8, Jr., Ewing
Hitter – Regan Alfs, 5’11, Jr., BDS
Libero/DS – Jaiden Schindler, 5’7, Sr., Ewing
Libero/DS – Michyla Lihs, 5’4, Sr., Mead