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Kerry Collins, Published September 22 2009

Collins: Wadena-Deer Creek improves,

Not many volleyball teams could lose a hitter like Brigetta Berg and get better.

Despite the graduation of one of the top hitters around, Wadena-Deer Creek could still be the class of Section 8.

“We’ve still got a good nucleus, and we knew this group would be a good one,” head coach Sue Volkmann said. “We went to state last year, and that kind of puts a target on your back.

“We always know that we’re going to get everyone’s best effort, and we have to be ready for it.”

The Wolverines lost Berg, who is now playing at Southwest Minnesota State in Marshall, Minn., but they have almost everybody else back from a team that went to state last season.

The bulk of the group is juniors, led by setter Courtney Volkmann. Hitters Kelsi Crawford, Rachael Carlisle, Mandy Perkins and Rachel Craig are also all juniors.

Sophomore Brittany Noon is also a go-to player, and the Wolverines get contributions from freshman Caitlin Volkmann and eighth-grade defensive specialist Hope Theisen. Kelly DeFoe is the lone senior on the roster.

“They’ve been playing together for a long time,” coach Volkmann said. “It’s predominantly made up of juniors, but we use a lot of different players.

“We knew this group was coming, and we’ve been looking forward to it.”

Getting to state last season was a huge boost for this group, coach Volkmann said, especially since most of them have at least two more years of playing left.

“That was a huge experience for us,” coach Volkmann said. “It gave all of them a shot of confidence.

“It showed them what they could do. I showed them they could get that far, and that’s a possibility again.”

Wadena-Deer Creek lost its first two matches at state last year, but the Wolverines are gunning to make another trip this year with different results.

Of course, that means they’ll have to get through the difficult Class 2A, Section 8 that includes teams like Dilworth-Glyndon-Felton and Perham.

“This section has been very strong year after year, so nothing is ever a given,” Volkmann said. “There are several teams that have a legitimate shot.

“Going to state is something they know what it takes to achieve. It’s going to be tough, but it’s something they know they can do.”

Readers can reach Forum reporter Kerry Collins at (701) 241-5548