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Volleyball: Introducing the 2022 West Central Tribune All-Area Team

Athletes from BBE, MACCRAY, Montevideo, Paynesville, Willmar and YME lead this year's squad.

Willmar senior Sydney Schnichels, left, reacts after the Cardinals scored a point during a Section 2AAA quarterfinal match against Worthington on Wednesday, Oct. 26, 2022 at the Big Red Gym at Willmar High School.
Willmar senior Sydney Schnichels, left, reacts after the Cardinals scored a point during a Section 2AAA quarterfinal match against Worthington on Wednesday, Oct. 26, 2022 at the Big Red Gym at Willmar High School.
Joe Brown / West Central Tribune
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The West Central Tribune All-Area Volleyball team is back and the talent of the seven-person squad runs deep.

The teams represented are Belgrade-Brooten-Elrosa, MACCRAY, Montevideo, Paynesville, Willmar and Yellow Medicine East.

BBE (26-7) was the only area team to make the state tournament, taking fourth place in Class A. YME (7-17) lost to MACCRAY in the second round of the Section 3A playoffs. MACCRAY (21-11) went on to lose in the semifinals.

In Class AA, Paynesville (21-6) lost to Pipestone Area in the Section 3AA championship. Montevideo (5-17) lost in the Section 3AA-South playoffs against Windom.

In Class AAA, Worthington upset Willmar (24-4) in Section 2AAA quarterfinals.

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All seven athletes that make up the WCT All-Area Volleyball team made their respective All-Conference teams, six are seniors, five are continuing their volleyball careers at the collegiate level, four return from the 2021 All-Area Volleyball team, three earned All-State honors, two are setters and the Minnesota Volleyball Coaches Association named one as Ms. Baden Volleyball.

Look no further. Here is the 2022 West Central Tribune All-Area Volleyball team (in alphabetical order):

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YME's Ruby Bones looks to tap the ball over the net during a Camden Conference match against CMCS on Thursday, Sept. 9, 2021 at Prinsburg.
Joe Brown / West Central Tribune

Ruby Bones

Sr., MH, Yellow Medicine East

A stand-out in the Sting's front now, Ruby Bones takes her volleyball talents from YME to the Division II level at Minnesota State University-Moorhead next year.

In her senior campaign, Bones tallied 274 kills with a .337 kill efficiency percentage, adding 66 ace blocks, 34 digs and 14 service aces. She finishes her YME career with 616 kills, 286 ace blocks, 142 digs and 38 service aces.

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Ruby Bones, senior, Yellow Medicine East
Submitted photo

"Ruby Bones has been playing at the varsity level for us for the past four years. She has a strong presence at the net and is such a physical player when it comes to attacking and blocking," Sting head coach Alexis Peters said. "She knew what shot to make at the right time and found ways to score for our team."

The Camden Conference named Bones a member of its all-conference team. She also served as one of YME's captains, where she earned honors as Team MVP, Team Offensive Player of the Year and the Team Coaches' Award.

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"Not only is Ruby a great volleyball player, but she has been an outstanding leader for our team as well," Peters said of Bones, who also earned Academic All-State and All-Conference honors.

Willmar eighth grader Ellery DeBoer sets the ball during a Central Lakes Conference match against Sartell on Tuesday, Sept. 27, 2022 at the Big Red Gym at Willmar High School.
Willmar eighth grader Ellery DeBoer sets the ball during a Central Lakes Conference match against Sartell on Tuesday, Sept. 27, 2022 at the Big Red Gym at Willmar High School.
Joe Brown / West Central Tribune

Ellery DeBoer

8th, S, Willmar

In her first varsity season as an eighth-grader, Ellery DeBoer played in all 79 sets for Willmar and finished second in set assists among Class AAA setters whose stats were submitted to the MN Volleyball Hub.

Named to the Central Lakes All-Conference team, DeBoer recorded 737 set assists. Among players that recorded at least 150 set assists in Class AAA on MN Volleyball Hub, no one had a better assist/set ratio than DeBoer at 9.3.

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Ellery DeBoer, eighth-grader, Willmar
Submitted photo

Adding to her stat-line as Willmar's "Rookie of the Year," DeBoer tallied 132 digs, 65 kills, 18 service aces and 14 total blocks.

The MN Volleyball Hub named DeBoer "Player of the Week" on Sept. 19. The CLC also named DeBoer its "Player of the Week" on Oct. 3.

"Ellery had a huge role in our team's success this year. She stepped into a huge position and it was fun to see her grow throughout the season," Cardinals head coach Leah Brogdon said. "I'm looking forward to coaching her for the next few years."

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Thunder Hawks senior middle hitter Avery Koenen spikes the ball during a match against the Benson Braves on Thursday, Sept. 15, 2022, at Benson High School.
Michael Lyne / West Central Tribune

Avery Koenen

Sr., MH, Montevideo

A returnee to the WCT All-Area Volleyball team and honored as the West Central Conference Most Valuable Hitter, Avery Koenen tallied 299 kills with 180 digs, 54 blocks and 24 service aces in her senior season.

Koenen's 299 kills helped her surpass the 1,000-kill mark, as she reached 1,008 for her career. Other career totals include: 425 digs, 160 blocks and 57 service aces.

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Avery Koenen, senior, Montevideo
Submitted photo

"Avery Koenen is a once-in-a-lifetime kind of athlete to coach. Six-foot-three-inches with quickness, balance, timing, coordination and a competitive spirit," Montevideo head coach John Mader said. "When our team was passing 'in system' she was an offensive force that was almost unstoppable. Avery is a six rotation player (who) led our team in almost every statistical category. She is unselfish and always committed to the team."

In her final season with the Thunder Hawks, Montevideo honored Koenen as the Team MVP and she earned a spot on the All-West
Central Conference team.

Koenen, a multi-sport athlete, will continue her basketball career at the Division I level at North Dakota State University next year.

"What not everyone knows is that Avery is an even better person. She sets aside almost no time for herself," Mader said. "Both in the summer and during the school year, she is working with young children. She is active in her family, church and is a leader in her school. We need a whole new category of athletics and humanities to spotlight kids like Avery."

Senior Ava Mueller, 14, and the BBE volleyball team react after scoring a point in the fourth set of the Class A state quarterfinals against BGMR on Thursday, Nov. 10, 2022 at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul.
Senior Ava Mueller, 14, and the BBE volleyball team react after scoring a point in the fourth set of the Class A state quarterfinals against BGMR on Thursday, Nov. 10, 2022 at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul.
Joe Brown / West Central Tribune

Ava Mueller

Sr., OH, BBE

Committed to the University of Jamestown, Belgrade-Brooten-Elrosa's Ava Mueller earned All-State and All-Central Minnesota Conference honors following her senior season.

The team captain her last two seasons, Mueller eclipsed the 1,000-kill mark by tallying 452 kills in 2022. She added 285 digs, 42 service aces, 32 blocks and six set assists.

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Ava Mueller, senior, Belgrade-Brooten-Elrosa
Submitted photo

Mueller's 1,095 career kills come as the most in BBE program history. She also finishes her career with 525 digs, 95 service aces, 79 blocks and 30 set assists.

"Ava shows great leadership with her words and actions in practice and games," Jaguars head coach Alanna Hunter said. "She also worked this year to expand her hitting options. She moved around the net to hit different sets and she worked hard to add different shots to her repertoire."

Mueller was also an All-CMC first team member in 2021 and on the second team in 2019. She also received CMC Academic All-Conference honors in 2021 and 2022.

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Cardinals senior outside hitter Sydney Schnichels puts the ball into play during the Dig Pink: Play for a Cure match against New London-Spicer on Tuesday, Oct. 4, 2022, at Willmar High School.
Michael Lyne / West Central Tribune

Sydney Schnichels

Sr., OH, Willmar

The second returnee of the WCT All-Area Volleyball team, Sydney Schnichels finishes her five-year Willmar volleyball career with a handful of accolades.

To name a few, the Minnesota Volleyball Coaches Association named Schnichels as Minnesota's Ms. Baden Volleyball as the outstanding senior in the state. The American Volleyball Coaches Association named her to the 2022 All-America First Team and she is a 2022 First Team All-State member.

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Sydney Schnichels, senior, Willmar
Submitted photo

Schnichels tallied 490 kills, 232 digs, 51 service aces and 28 total blocks in her senior campaign. She finishes her career with 1,315 kills, 699 digs, 151 total blocks and 104 service aces.

"Sydney is a leader on and off the court. She pushes herself and her teammates to get better everyday," Cardinals head coach Leah Brogdon said of Schnichels, an Academic All-State member. "She is a huge competitor and she will be missed next year. I'm excited to see where her future takes her as a Gopher."

Also named the Team MVP and All-Central Lakes Conference, Schnichels is Willmar's all-time leader in kills and kills per set at 6.2.

Schnichels exits Willmar as a three-time all-conference member, three-time WCT All-Area member and a 2-time MNVBCA Class AAA All-State member.

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Bulldogs senior Kyleigh Tangen claps her hands with a smile during a match against the Yellow Medicine East Sting on Tuesday, Aug. 30, 2022, at Yellow Medicine East High School in Granite Falls.
Michael Lyne / West Central Tribune

Kyleigh Tangen

Sr., OH, Paynesville

The third returnee of the WCT All-Area Volleyball team, Kyleigh Tangen eclipsed 1,000 career kills with Paynesville in her senior campaign.

"Kyleigh has been a force again to deal with on the outside for Paynesville. Her hard work and determination ... got us through long rallies and crucial points," Bulldogs head coach Nicole Humbert said. "I have appreciated her hard work ethic and love for the game."

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Kyleigh Tangen, senior, Paynesville
Submitted photo

She is committed to a Division II volleyball program at the University of Sioux Falls. Tangen received All-Central Minnesota Conference honors after tallying 378 kills, 237 digs, 54 service aces and 32 total blocks in her senior season.

Tangen finishes her Paynesville career with 1,059 kills, 744 digs, 120 service aces and 101 total blocks.

"I will miss our conversations about volleyball strategy that she has learned beyond Paynesville volleyball," Humbert said. "We look forward to watching her play at the University of Sioux Falls."

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MACCRAY senior outside hitter Sydney Thein spikes the ball during a match against the Renville County West Jaguars on Tuesday, Oct. 11, 2022, at MACCRAY High School in Clara City.
Michael Lyne / West Central Tribune

Sydney Thein

Sr., R-OH/S, MACCRAY

The fourth returnee to the WCT All-Area Volleyball team, Sydney Thein comes as one of the most versatile players from the area.

Named as the Camden Conference MVP and a member of the All-State and All-Camden teams, Thein finishes her MACCRAY career with more than 1,000 set assists, kills and digs.

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Sydney Thein, senior, MACCRAY
Submitted photo

Thein tallied 1,842 set assists, 1,193 digs and 1,167 kills. She also had 145 service aces and 68 blocks.

"Sydney is one of the most well-rounded and talented players. She is able to play any position and succeed in those roles," MACCRAY head coach Tory Brouwer said. "She was key in attacking at the net for us with many teams having difficulty stopping her. ... She has great court awareness and can step into an role to make the team better."

Thein notched 393 kills, 329 set assists, 312 digs and 24 service aces in her senior season.

"Sydney gives 110% day in and day out, while keeping a positive attitude and challenging her teammates," Brouwer said of Thein, who also earned Academic All-State honors. "She is an all-around player on and off the court. She works hard and gives it everything she has while constantly striving to be a better player."

Thein will continue her volleyball career at the Division II level at Southwest Minnesota State University in Marshall next year.

Honorable Mentions

Dreya Barsness
Jr., OH, Minnewaska

All-West Central Conference; 339 kills, 280 digs, 40 service aces, 31 set assists and seven ace blocks.

Brooklyn Fischer
Jr., MH, BBE

All-Central Minnesota Conference, Academic All-Conference; 279 kills, 279 digs, 44 service aces, 39 blocks and 19 set assists.

Emma Flanders
Jr., OH, Paynesville

All-Central Minnesota Conference; 290 kills, 243 digs, 47 service aces and 21 total blocks.

Olivia Holmgren
Sr., S, Litchfield

All-Wright County Conference; 714 set assists, 289 digs and 50 service aces.

Holmgren had 1,284 career set assists.

Rachel Jakel
Jr., OH, Renville County West

All-Camden Conference, Team MVP; 297 digs, 266 kills, 14 blocks and 11 service aces.

Brielle Janssen
Fr., MB, MACCRAY

All-Camden Conference; 272 kills, 266 digs, 49 blocks and 30 service aces.

Libby McGeary
Sr., L, Benson

West Central Conference Most Valuable Defensive Player, All-Conference

Ellary Peterson
Sr., MB, New London-Spicer

All-Wright County Conference, Team MVP and captain; 222 kills (.272 hitting percentage), 227 digs and 100 total blocks (70 aces, 30 assists).

Layla Pfarr
So., S, BOLD

West Central Conference Most Valuable Setter, All-Conference, Team's Most Improved Player of the Year; 838 assists, 197 digs, 42 kills, 37 service aces and five blocks.

Pfarr surpassed 1,000 career kills in her sophomore season. She stands at 1,142.

Mari Ryberg
Sr., OH, BOLD

All-West Central Conference, Team MVP and captain, four-time letter winner; 301 kills, 258 digs, 39 blocks, 35 service aces and 12 set assists.

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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