Wahoo- This year the Wahoo Newspaper All-Area Volleyball Team is one of the more upperclassmen dominated teams in recent history. In fact, every single girl selected to this year’s first team is a senior, and seven out of the eight girls have signed or committed to play college athletics.
This season, these girls all led their teams to winning records. They were dominant presences both physically and vocally on the court, and on more than one occasion they were the sole reason their teams found themselves on the winning side.
Having gotten a front-row seat to watch what these girls were able to accomplish, I can say that I was thoroughly impressed. The power that these hitters hit with and the way they dug and set the ball to their teammates, was almost like a work of art.
I know in conversations I have had with coaches of these players, they all had a huge impact on the court, and will undoubtedly be missed next season. They played the game hard, for their team, and for that, they are all deserving of this recognition.
Kali Jurgensmeier, Bishop Neumann Sr.
Jurgensmeier had another season for the record books for Bishop Neumann in 2021. She led the area in kills this season with 621 registered and led the state in kills per set with 6.5.
At the service line, she had 63 aces and also picked up 54 blocks. Her defense did not lack either, with 357 digs and 55 assists.
Her play on the court is the reason the Cavaliers have qualified for state in three of the last four seasons including this year.
Jurgensmeier leaves the Neumann volleyball program ranked first in kills with 1, 681 and second in digs with 1, 357. After high school, she will be continuing her volleyball career at Nebraska-Omaha.
“Kali is a phenom,” Neumann Head Coach Brandi Sladky said. “She has always been an offensive threat for us, but she has worked really hard over the last four years to become a really great six-rotation player. Her serve receive is top-notch, she’s one of the best servers in the state, she reads the ball really well on defense, and she’s become a strong blocker. She is also a fierce competitor who has developed a strong mental game. She recovers quickly from mistakes by making the next play even better.”
Emily Quinn, Mead Sr.
The last four seasons have been a magical run for the Mead Volleyball program. They have made it to four consecutive District Finals and two state tournaments. A big reason for this has been the play of Quinn at setter.
This year she led a Raiders team who were rated near the top of D-1 all year with 922 assists. In the 2,509 ball handling attempts she had this season, she only committed 15 errors. She averaged 9.9 assists per match.
For her career, Quinn also surpassed the 2,000 career assists mark and was inching close to 3,000. Her final total was 2,815 assists.
On top of being a top-notch passer, Quinn also had the most aces for the Raiders with 73 and 189 digs.
“Emily Quinn was an instrumental part of our team this year and her career,” Mead Head Coach Keshia Havelka said. “She was our team captain and leader and ran the offense extremely well. She is never satisfied with her ability and always wants more reps to improve herself. She is so athletic and quick and can make a bad pass turn great quickly. Her serve this year was another X factor generating long runs and numerous aces for us. She is a great role model and has the best personality, which is going to leave a huge hole to fill next year.”
Heidi Krajicek, Yutan Sr.
Making her first appearance on the Wahoo Newspaper All-Area Team during the 2021 season is Heidi Krajicek. She helped lead an amazing turnaround inside the Chieftains program these last four years from the setter position.
She was second in the area behind Quinn from Mead with 657 assists. The only difference was, Krajicek achieved this mark by playing in 60 sets on the season.
Her 10.95 assists per set was the highest mark in the area and she only committed four ball-handling errors as well. On top of the assists, Krajicek was fourth on Yutan’s team with 259 digs and was second on the team with 46 aces.
In the biggest moments this year, it seemed as if Krajicek shined the most. In a five-set district final loss to Norfolk Catholic, she had 46 assists and 34 digs.
After high school, she will continue her volleyball career at Midland University in Fremont.
“Heidi was the glue to our team this year,” Yutan Head Coach Jodi Bierman said. “When she is on the court, she helps everybody else feel much more comfortable and calm about what they are doing. She's been a captain for us for the last two years. Heidi was really good about getting our hitters into a position they could attack the ball with consistency. She is consistent, hardworking, and dependable. She was very helpful to the underclassmen, too, giving pointers, encouraging and just modeling good technique.”
Emaree Harris, Raymond Central Sr.
Improving every day has been the key to success for Emaree Harris of Raymond Central over her four year high school career. She has gone from having 53 kills as a sophomore to a player who had over 200 kills this season and had a .380 hitting percentage which was second in Class C-1 and fourth in the state.
She finished the season with 254 kills, which was the most recorded by the Mustangs by well over 50 kills. Harris was also tough to hit around with her 6’3” frame and had 40 blocks which were the second most posted by Raymond Central.
A true middle player, Harris had to make the most of her limited time on the court. That’s what makes it extremely impressive with what she was able to accomplish.
Harris will be continuing her volleyball career at Division II Rockhurst University in Kansas City, MO. next fall.
“Emaree was our offensive leader and put up a nice solid block,” Raymond Central Head Coach Andrea Rockmann said. “She has worked very hard, both in season and out of season, to better her volleyball IQ and is continuing to fine-tune her skills for the next level.”
Lauren Thiele, Bishop Neumann Sr.
Lauren Thiele is the definition of an all-around volleyball player, who could get it done at the net and in the back row on defense.
She was second on a Neumann team who qualified for state this season with 235 kills. In terms of blocks, she recorded 35 and also had 30 aces.
What makes Thiele different is she was an excellent setter as well as a front-row player, leading the Cavaliers with 489 assists. She was third on the team with 263 digs.
Just a small sample size to how versatile she was, could be seen in her performance in the District Final against Broken Bow. She had nine kills, three aces, two blocks, nine digs, and 19 assists.
“Lauren is just a coach’s dream player,” Sladky said. “She works hard all the time and she gives everything she has, physically, mentally, and emotionally. She can do it all and she really has! She transitioned from an outside hitter in junior high to a middle hitter during freshmen summer camp, to a right-side hitter as a freshman, to a setter her remaining three years, and she never really skipped a beat. She always did what was needed to help the team. Lauren’s name is all over the Bishop Neumann record books as she is in the top ten for aces, kills, digs, and assists for her career, and she holds three of the top ten season assist records. She really can do it all!”
Mya Larson, Wahoo Sr.
During the last four years, it’s safe to say that the Wahoo Volleyball Team has experienced their fair share of success with two Class C-1 State Championships and a third-place finish. A crucial part of this season and to all three of those Warrior teams who earned trophies at state has been outside hitter Mya Larson.
She led the team this year like she has the last four years with 507 kills and a .312 hitting percentage. The 42 aces, 393 digs, and the 405 serve receives all ranked second for Wahoo this year.
Due to injuries amongst the team this season, a lot of underclassmen with limited to no varsity experience played for the Warriors. This threw Larson into a role where she became a teacher on the court both by her play and her vocal presence.
For her career, Larson recorded 2,038 kills. She also eclipsed the 1,000 career dig mark with 1,549 digs.
After Wahoo, Larson will be attending Montana State University where she will be a member of the volleyball team.
“Mya was a great senior leader this year on and off the court,” Wahoo Head Coach Katie Reeves said. “She consistently rose to the occasion and is a fearless competitor. She was a huge part of our success this year and led the team in kills. Mya has a love for the game and loves to share it with those around her. She has left a legacy within this volleyball program and I cannot wait to watch her at Montana State!”
Brianna Lemke, Mead Sr.
A strong arm helped Brianna Lemke become one of the premier front row players in Class D-1 this year and also powered the Raiders to their second straight state tournament. This was the Hastings College commit first time being selected for First Team All-Area by the Wahoo Newspaper.
She used her 6’0” height to her advantage and recorded 468 kills and 13 blocks. At the service line, she was second for Mead with 61 aces.
In the Raiders offense, Lemke had to play out of position rotating into the back row. This didn’t faze her as she recorded 307 digs and had 388 serve receives.
Despite losing to Elmwood-Murdock in the first round at state this year, Lemke put everything on the line and had a spectacular performance in what was her last high school match. She had 37 kills and 24 digs in the five-set thriller.
Lemke eclipsed the 1,000 career kill mark for her career. She holds the school record with 1,267 kills.
“Bri is obviously an exceptional volleyball player and athlete,” Havelka said. “She excels both offensively and defensively on the court. We relied on her to do so much for us and she never cracked under that pressure. She has a calm demeanor on the outside but you can just watch her flip a switch and take over games. It’s so much fun to watch. I loved how coachable she was even when she didn’t necessarily need to be coached. She continuously improved each and every year as a player.”
Haley Bedlan, Yutan Sr.
The 23-7 record that the Yutan Girls Volleyball Team posted this season would have been hard to accomplish without the play of senior Haley Bedlan. She is another do everything type player that made the First Team for the Wahoo Newspaper for the first time.
She led the Chieftains in three major statistical categories this season. They were in the kill category with 277 kills, aces with 50, and digs with 388.
In the team’s heart wrenching defeat against Norfolk Catholic in the District Final, Bedlan had a great match. She finished with 21 kills and 29 digs.
The volleyball career for Bedlan will not end at high school. She has signed on to play at College of St. Mary’s in Omaha next fall.
“Haley has been our primary offensive threat and serve receiver for three years and our primary defender for the last 2-3 years,” Bierman said. “She is very versatile - we could have used in multiple positions. She also was incredibly dependable from the serving line. It's tough to think about losing somebody who led our team in so many areas. She has been a captain the last two years, and has worked hard to raise the level of intensity in the gym during practices. I am really proud of her growth and how she started to move the ball around.”