Tori Thomas

Hastings St. Cecilia

6-0, Senior, OH

Tori Thomas has done a lot for Hastings St. Cecilia.

The 6-0 senior was a four-year starter that helped the Hawkettes have a lot of success, especially her senior year. Thomas finished with 394 and a .332 hitting efficiency to help St. Cecilia finish as the Class C-2 state runner-up. She also had 292 digs.

HSC coach Alan VanCura said it’s her work ethic that made Thomas the player that she was.

“She’s put in a lot of time during the course of her career,” he said. “And it’s not just during the season, it’s during the offseason, the summer workouts. All that helped her have a great senior season. She was a six-rotation player that did a great job in the back row.”

Thomas provided many kills during her career. She finished with 1,200 kills, which is second in school history behind Morgan Nikkila.

“That’s good company,” VanCura said. “We were balanced this year, but it seemed we needed a kill, she was there to deliver one for us. We looked to her a lot.”

VanCura said Thomas works hard not only on the court but off the court as well.

“She not only stands out on the court but also in the classroom,” he said. “She’s just a great all-around kid. They really don’t come around any better than her.”

Thomas is done with volleyball career. She will compete in track and field for Kansas after high school.

Majesta Valasek

Broken Bow

5-9, Senior, OH

Broken Bow reached the state tournament for the first time since 2000.

Majesta Valasek was part of the reason.

Valasek finished with a team-high 457 kills with a .271 efficiency. She also led the area with 5.1 kills per set.

She added 310 digs for the Indians, who recorded a school record 33 wins and finished fourth at the state tournament.

Broken Bow coach Skylar Morris said Valasek worked hard to reach her potential.

“She had an outstanding year for us,” Morris said. “She found a way to make herself a threat this year, both offensively and defensively.”

Morris said Valasek felt some pressure during her junior year after being the second main attacker her sophomore year. This year she was comfortable being the main attacker for the Indians.

“Last year was new to her because she had to be the one the ball was going to be set to the most,” Morris said. “She was a lot more comfortable with her role on the team this year and knew what was expected from her teammates.”

Valasek finished her career with a school-record 1,114 kills. She also had 1,089 digs, 597 career receptions and 429 service points.

Morris said Valasek plans on playing college volleyball but is undecided at this point.

Josie Jakubowski

St. Paul

5-8, Junior, OH

Josie Jakubowski led a very balanced St. Paul squad during the 2019 season.

The 5-8 junior finished with a team-high 309 kills for the Wildcats, who finished 35-1 while dropping only four sets, all at the state tournament as well as the Class C-1 state runner-up. She helped them finish with a .267 hitting efficiency during the season.

“She’s just steady for us this year, but she was a lot more consistent for us,” St. Paul coach Matt Koehn-Fairbanks said. “She also developed a lot more shots for us. She could hit angles, lines, and added a few roll and tip shots. She really diversified her game and that made a lot of difference.

“And she was that kind of player that could get us out of trouble. When we weren’t passing very well, she really came up with some kills that helped us, especially at state.”

And it wasn’t just her offense. It was also her defense that made her be the player she was in 2019. She played a full six rotations and finished with 211 digs and 52 ace serves for the Wildcats.

Koehn-Fairbanks said Jakubowski improved in those areas.

“She’s got great instincts as a volleyball player,” he said. “Her passing and defense improved a lot for us this year. She can make her serve move from across the court.”

Avery Kalvoda

Grand Island CC

5-9, Senior, MB

Avery Kalvoda got off to a little bit of a slow start for Grand Island Central Catholic.

The 5-9 senior missed the first match of the season because of a sprained ankle. But Kalvoda found a way to lead the Crusaders in kills during the season. She finished with a team-high 310 kills with a .266 hitting efficiency, helping the Crusaders to the Class C-2 state championship.

“Avery is competitive and a very aggressive player,” Zavala said. “We could always count on her giving us an aggressive swing when you need it. She was always pretty steady for us.”

Zavala said Kalvoda was always a big hitter for GICC during her career did feel like she improved in a few areas. She finished with 32 blocks.

“Her blocking improved the most for us this year. Her overall game improved,” Zavala said.

One of the traits that Zavala liked about Kalvoda was her passion for the game. There were many times during her career where she would always show her excitement, especially when a teammate makes a good play.

“Avery is somebody you always like playing with, just because she has a lot of energy when she plays,” Zavala said. “She shows her emotion a lot, which for a hitter is fine.

“She was a very good teammate and she was very good to the younger kids.”

Elayna Holcomb

Centura

6-0, Senior, MB

Centura needed Elayna Holcomb to be a leader during the 2019 season.

Centurion coach Alison Feeney said she felt she was.

Holcomb was a force at the net with an area-best 466 kills with a .359 hitting efficiency and 102 blocks.

Feeney said she felt Holcomb did what she needed to do for Centura, who finished 22-11 and made a C-2 district final appearance.

“She was just a natural leader which is something we needed because she had the most experience coming back for us,” Feeney said. “She was a dynamic player for us. I don’t know if I had a player put up the offensive numbers consistently match after match like she did.”

While Holcomb’s net game was impressive, her back row play was also. She finished with 382 digs, which was third for the Centurions.

“For what she did for us in the back row was impressive with her being 6-0,” Feeney said. “I felt she needed to stay on the floor for chemistry purposes and leadership.”

Feeney said Holcomb is going to be missed at Centura.

“There’s really not enough positive adjectives to describe her,” Feeney said. “She’s really grown into a great player from her freshman year to senior year. She had great leadership and had great composure on the court.”

Feeney said Holcomb plans on playing college volleyball but is undecided at this point.

Paige Lukasiewicz

St. Paul

5-3, Junior, libero

Whenever Paige Lukasiewicz was on the floor, the ball likely would not hit the floor.

The 5-3 junior led the St. Paul defense that gave opponents’ fits during the 2019 season.

She finished with 439 digs on the season for the Wildcats, a reason why they were 35-1 and the Class C-1 state runner-up this past season.

That helped her earn All-Heartland Super Squad honors for the second-straight season.

St. Paul coach Matt Koehn-Fairbanks said Lukasiewicz never wants to see a ball hit the floor.

“She goes all out to get a ball and is not afraid to hit the floor,” he said. “She gives that kind of effort all the time in practice. She never takes a rally or a drill off.”

Lukasiewicz has already made the record books as she has Class C-1 record 1,741 career digs.

Koehn-Fairbanks also said Lukasiewicz is also one of the better serve receivers St. Paul has had since Mercedes Lassen, who graduated in 2013.

“She’s statistically one of the better ones we’ve had in a while,” he said.

And it wasn’t just her passing that made Lukasiewicz a good player. She also had 39 ace serves on the season.

“She gets a lot of movement on her serve,” Koehn-Fairbanks said. “She can place it pretty well and hits it hard as well.”

ALL-HEARTLAND SECOND TEAM

Name Yr. Ht. Pos. School Accomplishments

Grace Langemeier Sr. 5-10 OH Neb. Christian Had 326 kills for Eagles

Whitney Brown Sr. 5-8 S/OH Northwest Had 150 kills, 488 assists, 449 digs

Katherine HamburgerJr. 5-11 MB St. Cecilia Led area with .375 hitting eff.

Hanna Plumbtree Jr. 6-0 MB Fullerton Had 390 kills with .260 eff.

Brooke Poppert Sr. 5-10 RS St. Paul Had 299 kills and 51 blocks.

Olivia Poppert So. 6-0 S St. Paul Dished 950 assists for Wildcats

Kate McFarland Sr. 5-8 L Grand Island CC Set school record 559 digs.

ALL-HEARTLAND THIRD TEAM

Name Yr. Ht. Pos. School Accomplishments

Caitlyn Scott Jr. 5-8 OH Adams Central Finished with 339 kills.

Lauren Hauser Sr. 6-0 MB Northwest Had 204 kills and 96 blocks

Cassidy Tompkin Sr. 6-0 MB Giltner Had 343 kills Hornets

Gracie Woods Fr. 5-11 OH Grand Island CC Finished freshman year with

Makenna Asher Sr. 5-10 RS/SSt. Cecilia Had 233 kills and 685 assists.

Nadia VanSlyke Sr. 5-8 S/RS Arcadia-Loup City Had 122 kills and 830 assists.

Cassidy Knust Jr. 5-3 L Aurora Led area with 605 digs.

ALL-HEARTLAND FOURTH TEAM

Name Yr. Ht. Pos. School Accomplishments

Haley Schram Sr. 5-10 MB Hastings Helped Tigers to state tourney

Teegan Hansel Jr. 5-8 MB St. Paul Had 196 kills with .320 eff.

Vanessa Wood So. 5-9 MB Central Valley Helped Cougars to state

Chloe Cloud So. 6-1 MB Grand Island CC Led Crusaders with 82 blocks.

Rhianna Wilhelm Sr. 5-10 S/RS Heartland Had 2,424 career assists

Hannah Preissler Sr. 5-5 S Giltner Had 726 assists for Hornets

Carly Norlen So. 5-6 L Hastngs Finished with 596 digs.

Honorable Mention

ADAMS CENTRAL: Jessica Babcock, So..; ANSLEY/LITCHFIELD: Karlee Stunkel, Sr.; Laney Stunkel, Sr.; Brianna Ryan, Sr.; Carli Bailey, So.; ARCADIA/LOUP CITY: Capri Dethlefs, Sr.; Calli Bauer, Sr.; Mariah Markus, Sr.; Creighton Harrington, Sr.; AURORA: Paxtyn Dummer, Sr.; Kassidy Hudson, Jr.; Raina Cattau, Jr.; Grace Pohlman, Sr.; Jaylee Schuster, Jr.; BOONE CENTRAL/NEWMAN GROVE: Caitlin Nelson, Sr.; Natalee Luettel, Sr.; Marysa Duerksen, Jr.; Paige Nelson, Jr.; BROKEN BOW: Kailyn Scott, So.; Madison Neely, Sr.; Kya Scott, So.; BURWELL: Anna Gideon, Sr.; Jenna Schott, So.; Carlie Helgoth, Jr.; Hayley Hughes, Sr.; Hanna Huffman, Sr.; CENTRAL CITY: Jade Erickson, Jr.; Jessica Ohlman, Sr.; Jacey Eberle, Sr.; Rylie Young, Sr.; CENTRAL VALLEY: Neligh Poss, So.; Ashlyn Wright, Jr.; Kensey Wadas, Sr.; CENTURA Amber Baldwin, Sr.; Jadyn Gentleman, Sr.; Sydney Davis, Fr.; Taya Christensen, Fr.; CROSS COUNTY: Cortlyn Schaefer, Jr.; Amanda Giannou, Sr.; Erica Stratman, Jr.; Katie Kopetzky, Sr.: Chloe Sandell, So.; DONIPHAN-TRUMBULL: Madison Shimmin, Jr.; Maddie Smith, Sr.; Sophie Fitch, So.; FULLERTON: Jordan Plumbtree, So.; Josie Sonderup, Jr.; Teagan Gonsior, Fr.; GILTNER: Sydney Janzen, Sr.; Amanda Whisenand, Sr.; GRAND ISLAND: Emma Hilderbrand, Sr.; Tori Hale, Sr.; Anna McCoy, Sr.; Grace Johnson, Sr.; GRAND ISLAND CENTRAL CATHOLIC: Lauryn Willman, Sr.; Allison Kalvoda, Sr.; Courtney Toner, Sr.; Haily Asche, Jr.; GRAND ISLAND NORTHWEST: Macey Bosard, So.; Ellie Apfel, Jr.; Sophia McKinney, So.; HAMPTON: Lydia Dose, Sr.; Lexie Wolinski, Jr.; Rorie Loveland, Jr.; HASTINGS: Brooke Aspen, Sr.; Dacey Sealey, Jr.; HASTINGS ST. CECILIA: Chloe McCauley, Sr.; Addie Kirkegaard, So.; Erin Sheehy, So.; Jill Parr, So.; HEARTLAND: Allison Kroeker, Sr.; Kalea Wetjen, Sr.; HEARTLAND LUTEHRAN: Carli Maier, Sr.; Mollie Bexten, Sr.; Brianna VanBibber, Sr.; HIGH PLAINS: Brooke Bannister, Jr.; Brianna Wilshusen, Jr.; Lindsi Hughes, Sr.; Kenna Morris, Sr.; KENESAW: Stefanie Andserson, Sr.; Rylee Legg, So.; Cassidy Gallagher, So.; Savannah Williams, NEBRASKA CHRISTIAN: Molly Griess, So.; Tabitha Seip, So.; Kendyl Jividen, Sr.; Ord: Megan Benton, Jr.; Abbi Stethem, Jr.; Halie Jacobs, Sr.; RAVENNA: Morgan Fiddelke, Fr.; Jessica McKeon, Sr.; Ashlyn Fiddelke, Jr.; Brooklin Cox, So.; Callie Coulter, Jr.; SHELTON: Jadyn Branson, Sr.; Makenna Willis, Fr.; Alia Gomez, Fr.; TWIN RIVER: Marissa Morris, Sr.; WOOD RIVER: Ashley Packer, Sr.; Baylie Codner, Jr.; Jenna Rauert, So.; Lauren Thorp, Sr.

Sign up for TheIndependent.com Email Alerts

* I understand and agree that registration on or use of this site constitutes agreement to its user agreement and privacy policy.

Recommended for you

Load comments