Vreeman's stellar all-around play helps CMCS soar to state
Perusing the box score after a Central Minnesota Christian volleyball match reveals Kresson Vreeman's all-around ability. She's usually the leader or close to it in every category, leading Central Minnesota Christian veteran coach Traci Grussing ...
Perusing the box score after a Central Minnesota Christian volleyball match reveals Kresson Vreeman's all-around ability.
She's usually the leader or close to it in every category, leading Central Minnesota Christian veteran coach Traci Grussing to muse: "As good as anyone I've coached."
That's a bigger compliment than most coaches can give since Grussing has coached Division I standouts Lindsey VanderWell and Sarah Freiborg, among other outstanding players in her 16 years as head coach at the tiny private school 15 miles southwest of Willmar.
"In terms of all-around ability, she's the best I've ever coached," Grussing said. "She's not the best hitter, although she's close. And she's not the best setter, but she's close. But if you put everything together, she's the best I've had."
Two of the other outstanding players Grussing has coached in her career included Stacie (a 1997 graduate) and Kelli Vreeman ('98), Kresson's sisters, who helped put the Bluejays on the map at the state tournament. Stacie was a senior and Kelli a junior when the Bluejays took second place, falling in the championship when Kelli injured her ankle and watched in pain from the sideline as Win-E-Mac rallied to win the Class A title.
The next season, Kelli helped Central Minnesota Christian win its first of three straight state crowns.
Kresson, eight years younger than Kelli, remembers the excitement well.
"I always wanted to be like them and play in a state tournament," the soft-spoken All-State hitter/setter recalls. "I can remember being there and it was so loud with everyone cheering. But it was so exciting."
Now the cheering will be for Kresson and her CMCS (21-9) teammates as they open at state today against Bertha-Hewitt (30-1) at 1 p.m. at Xcel Energy Center.
Kelli (Schnichels) Vreeman is now an assistant coach for the Bluejays.
Vreeman began her varsity career in seventh grade as the CMCS manager and has been a regular in the lineup ever since.
This will be Kresson's third trip to state -- making previous stops in 2002 as an eighth-grade back row player and the last two years as a setter.
The Bluejays were third last year in Class A and have now been to the state tournament nine of the past 10 years. They won state titles in 1998, '99 and 2000, finished second in '97, third in 2005 and fifth in 2001 and again in 2004.
Vreeman was named to the All-State, All-Tournament and All-Area teams last season as a nimble setter with excellent quickness, timing and decision-making.
This season, Vreeman is hitting and setting. She was a right side hitter as a freshman and then the setter in a 5-1 offense the past two seasons until the Bluejays deployed a 6-2 offense with Vreeman and Cassie Ulferts the setter/hitters this season.
"Kresson is an excellent athlete who benefitted by having two older sisters and being introduced to volleyball at a young age," said Grussing. "And she's always willing to learn. She wants all the input she can get."
Vreeman has been honing her skills the last two years for Northern Lights, an elite Junior Olympic team based in Burnsville. She and her parents would make the trip three times a week to Burnsville for practice or matches. The season began after the state tournament and would go until early July.
But all the volleyball and traveling hasn't hindered her grades. She still pulled down straight-A's, sometimes having to do her homework in the car.
"She's a very bright kid," said Grussing. "And it shows on the court."
Vreeman leads the Bluejays this season in kills, kill percentage, serving percentage, ace serves, set assists, digs and serve receive. The only statistical category she doesn't lead the team in is ace blocks, where she is second.
"I really like setting the most," Vreeman said. "I like having the control to make clutch decisions on who to go to by reading the other team's blocks."
Vreeman will be attending the University of Denver on a full-ride scholarship next fall to play volleyball for the Division I program.
But first, she can showcase her skills one more time at the state tournament.
"I think we have a really good chance to win," she said. "As long as we play strong and don't get nervous, we'll do well."
Vreeman's best weapon might be her serve. She has notched an area-best 132 ace serves this season, while maintaing a 94 percent serving percentage with a jump serve.
"Kresson uses a floater serve now," said Grussing. "It's like a knuckle ball. She hits it hard, but you don't know where it's going. She used to use a top spin and the ball would sink, but you knew where it was going. A lot of teams have trouble with her serve.
And her attacks. And her sets. And ....