This Prep Dig Gauntlet is an event to remember. Not a single team made it through the tournament without dropping a set. That shows just how hot the competition was. I was able to get my first look at a…
This Prep Dig Gauntlet is an event to remember. Not a single team made it through the tournament without dropping a set. That shows just how hot the competition was. I was able to get my first look at a lot of athletes in the class of 2026 across the Midwest. Here are some impact athletes that rocked the Prep Dig Gauntlet this weekend.
Carolyn really impressed me this weekend. She has a massive presence at the net and is disciplined in her movement across the court. She held her base and stopped a lot of competitive middles from earning points with her massive block. Carolyn was also a key piece of 1st Alliance’s offense. She can really rip the ball when she connects with her setter.
Kate is an athlete who exploded onto my radar this weekend. She is a libero that checks all the boxes. Her intangibles set her apart, including her leadership and communication on the court. What stood out to me was her absolutely relentless pursuit of the ball. Every coverage, every tip, every swing, she was near. Never once did she lay off the gas or not do her job in the backcourt. She is a reliable and high-level libero that was impressive from the first point to the very last.
Dylan is a 6-rotation pin that has an incredible amount of potential. You could see her improving and impressing every time she stepped on the court. She has a high contact and rarely makes the same error twice. She has good court awareness and a high vertical. That, combined with her sheer athletic talent, makes her an offensive weapon on the pin and out of the back row.
Emma is a lefty who sets in the back row and swings in the front row. She first caught my eye on offense when she could consistently hit corner shots and was able to cut her swings back to the line from inside the court. Both of those are incredibly hard skills to master. As a setter, she was very smart and had great form and precision. She was an energizer and leader for her team.
Kennedy has really elevated her game this season. Her speed and power have both improved, as has her court awareness. She has always been a very talented blocker and proved it again this weekend. Kennedy is a very athletic and versatile middle who seems to have endless energy. She was key on both offense and defense for Sting.
Josie is a setter who spreads her offense well. She is aggressive with her choices and has a consistent jump set. Josie impressed me with her placement of the ball when she was on the move. She was quick and got her feet to the ball, and was still able to make great sets even behind the 10′ line.
Addison is a setter I could watch all day. She is smart, aggressive, and gritty. Her form is great, but her tough mentality and huge hustle on the court make her incredibly valuable. She runs the court with high-level leadership and efficiency. She will work to run down every ball and has a way of bettering that ball for her team.
Kenlee caught my eye with her natural blocking talent. She has great timing and a consistent press. Kenlee made it tough for opponents to earn points, and she rarely got tooled. She also is an impact hitter. She takes good swings, limits mistakes, and knows when to take risks with her shots. She is athletic with a lot of power and potential.
Allie is another athlete who played primarily on the right side this weekend. She was on the Sting 16 Gold squad that won the 16 Open Championship. Her blocking was next level. She was shutting down some of the best pins in the class of 2025. Allie made huge plays in critical moments. She swung well in out-of-system balls and was disciplined in transition.
This is another 2026 athlete playing up in the 16s age division. She was dominant throughout the weekend as a pin. Laney is an offensive weapon for Illini Elite 16 Cardinal. Her high volleyball IQ and massive vertical allow her to rip balls nearly anywhere on the court. Laney was a go-to hitter who never failed to impress throughout the weekend.
Ava is a libero with an incredible amount of hustle. She gets touches on nearly everything that comes her way and is relentless in her pursuit of the ball. Ava is an athlete who will give 100% on every single point. Opponents can never assume the ball is down because she very well could get a hand on it. Ava is an athlete with huge potential and a lot of grit.
Amalia is an incredibly dynamic and versatile athlete. She has the endurance to run six rotations across multiple days. In some matches she was running a 5-1 and in others she was setting in the back row and hitting in the front row. Either way, she is an athlete that is tough to take off the court. The timing and tempo of her jump sets impressed me, as did her fearlessness in making tough sets. She likes to push the middle, which helps keep her offense balanced and efficient.
Kendall is an impact middle that was all business. She got up on every ball, made great plays on overpasses, and was always aggressive at the net. She is a middle that doesn’t let anything by her and is athletic and quick across the net on defense. She was also an offensive weapon and earned many points for Northern Lights this weekend.
Bridget is a six-rotation athlete that is a powerhouse. She has a heavy hand on the ball and finds ways to earn points. She has a great connection with her setter and sometimes takes swings out of the middle. She is dynamic in her play and a go-to athlete on the court. She plays consistently in all of her skills.
Rachael is a 5-1 setter who has a lot of speed. She can get her hands on some impressive balls because of her explosive movement across the court. Rachael always put her best foot forward throughout the tournament and stepped up as a leader. She runs the court well and is an impact setter in this class.
Gina is an athlete who took advantage of every opportunity she had to convert points. At some points, she was a go-to hitter getting a high volume of contacts, and at others, she was a little quieter; however, every contact she had was productive and efficient. Gina impressed me at several points during the tournament.
This is a libero who is all over the court. From serve receive to defense and coverage, she will never miss a beat. She is disciplined and very quick. She makes running down setter dumps look easy and never hesitates on a ball. It is incredibly rare that Kennedey let the same ball get past her twice, which forced opponents to get creative with their shots.
Morgan is a gritty athlete that is hard to take off the court. She is talented and has great court awareness. She is a setter who has clean contact, quick feet and makes smart decisions. In the front row, she is a powerhouse hitter who moves her shots around and earns points efficiently.
Anabel excels on serve receive. That isn’t something you can say for a lot of athletes at this age. She sees the serve early and has very simple, clean movement. Her platform angles are precise, and she rarely gets aced. Her defense is also really solid, but it was her serve receive that caught my eye throughout the weekend.
Once Brynlee gets going, she is nearly unstoppable. She earned herself some fire emojis in my notes app this weekend. Brynlee is an explosive athlete with a lightning-fast arm swing. She is hungry for the ball and can manufacture points on the pin. Her court awareness and high-level pass to attack keep her on top of her competition.