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College volleyball: A dynamic duo is on the rise

Right-side hitters Harley Kunstleben and Gabby Randt are an offensive force.

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Warriors sophomore right-side hitter Harley Kunstleben (left) and freshman right-side hitter Gabby Randt (right) jump in attempt to block an attack during a match against Minnesota State Community and Technical College on Wednesday, Sept. 14, 2022, at Ridgewater College.
Michael Lyne / West Central Tribune
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WILLMAR — Working and studying by day, they are offensive forces by night for the Ridgewater Warriors volleyball team. Sophomore Harley Kunstleben and freshman Gabby Randt are leading the charge.

Listed as the only two right-side hitters on the Warriors roster, this has given Ridgewater head coach Amanda Bohlsen a good problem to deal with early this season.

As only one player can serve as the right-side hitter on the court, Bohlsen said she is trying to figure out a way to keep both Kunstleben and Randt on the floor at the same time.

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As of late throughout the season, Bohlsen has moved Randt into the middle hitter position to make it possible for her and Kunstleben to remain on the court together.

"Me and Harley are very similar athletes," Randt said. "It is easy for us to be on the court at the same time, even if I'm in a different position. We make it work."

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Warriors freshman right-side hitter Gabby Randt celebrates a point earned with teammate Harley Kunstleben during a match against Minnesota State Community and Technical College on Wednesday, Sept. 14, 2022, at Ridgewater College.
Michael Lyne / West Central Tribune

The versatility of Randt and Kunstleben on the court has created a dynamic duo that is on the rise for the Warriors. Both are expected to be on the court when Ridgewater is host to Western Tech in Minnesota College Athletic Conference match at noon Saturday.

Through four matches, Kunstleben and Randt lead the Warriors in kills. Kunstleben has 26 and Randt follows with 24.

Of players with 15 or more attack attempts, no one on the Warriors has a higher hitting percentage than Kunstleben's .288 and Randt's .222.

"Our relationship is strong," Kunstleben said. "We're able to count on each other in games. It's a good feeling."

Kunstleben, from Paynesville, adds 29 digs, seven set assists, six service aces and two block aces to her stat-line.

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Warriors sophomore right-side hitter Harley Kunstleben celebrates a point earned during a match against Minnesota State Community and Technical College on Wednesday, Sept. 14, 2022, at Ridgewater College.
Michael Lyne / West Central Tribune

Randt, from Clara City, has 14 digs, five serve aces, two set assists and a pair of block aces.

Both Kunstleben and Randt are averaging a team-best 2.9 points per set.

While Randt has been adjusting to position changes, Kunstleben is playing her first season of volleyball without Madison Leyendecker, her setter from Paynesville.

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"Harley has never played on the volleyball court with a different setter [than Leyendecker] until this season," Bohlsen said. "She is showing that even when adversity hits, you can still rise. She puts on a show and goes to work."

Kunstleben and Randt work and study frequently away from the volleyball court. Both chose to attend Ridgewater since it is close to home.

Kunstleben works three jobs and studies early childhood education. She works at her father's family farm, an assisted living facility in Paynesville and a daycare center in Richmond.

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Warriors freshman right-side hitter Gabby Randt (left) and sophomore right-side hitter Harley Kunstleben (right) jump up to block the ball during a match against Minnesota State Community and Technical College on Wednesday, Sept. 14, 2022, at Ridgewater College.
Michael Lyne / West Central Tribune

As for Randt, she is a barista at Starbucks and studies business with the goal of later transferring to a four-year institution.

The dynamic duo's work ethic off the court has translated to their success on the court.

"We talk about never being satisfied — and even after her impeccable plays — Gabby will look at me for something. Harley is the same way," Bohlsen said. "They are probably our two hardest workers."

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Prep girls gymnastics reports for Sunday, Jan. 29, 2023, in west central Minnesota. True Team measures a team's depth

Michael Lyne joined the West Central Tribune as a sports reporter in May 2022, following his graduation from the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities, where he graduated with a bachelors degree in journalism and a minor degree in Spanish studies.

You may reach Michael at mlyne@wctrib.com, or by calling (320) 214-4345.
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