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Eric Peterson, Published August 25 2011

Capable Cobber: Sykora has brought stability to Concordia volleyball team

MOORHEAD - Necessity helped drive Amy Sykora to becoming a setter.

The Concordia senior and her older sister, Erin, who was a hitter, would practice volleyball together growing up in Rapid City, S.D.

“She always made me set to her,” Amy said with a laugh. “We would always pepper in the back yard together. She was older so I always looked up to her. Whatever she told me to do, I would do.”

Amy is directing traffic these days. Sykora will be a fourth-year starter this fall. Concordia, ranked No. 14 in the NCAA Division III preseason coaches poll, opens its season on Sept. 2 at the Wisconsin-Eau Claire tournament.

“This year we want to be great,” said the 5-foot-7 Sykora, whose sister, Erin, also played for Concordia.

A former South Dakota Miss Volleyball, Amy made an impression in her first year with the program. In one of the early season tournaments, she was named tournament MVP.

“That just kind of set the tone for what Amy has been doing for us,” Concordia head coach Tim Mosser said. “Amy really established herself right away as probably the top setter.”

Sykora finished her freshman campaign with a team-high 593 assists. Through three seasons at Concordia, Sykora ranks third on the school’s career list with 2,075 assists. Mosser said Sykora has all the needed ingredients for a successful setter.

“Amy is steady,” Mosser said. “You can count on her, day-in, day-out. She’s going to be there. She puts up a steady ball. She has a steady personality.”

Cobbers senior outside hitter Jenna Green, from Dilworth, Minn., has been a four-year starter along with Sykora. Green said she “couldn’t ask for a better setter,” which is high praise considering Green played high school volleyball with Jennifer Lopez, a standout setter at North Dakota State.

“I’ve been very spoiled,” Green said with a chuckle. “I can attribute all my success to my setters.”

Green lives with Sykora and said Sykora’s personality is just as impressive as her physical skills.

“She’s very positive,” Green said. “She brings a really good vibe to the court. … She touches the ball every play almost. Her being able to connect with every single player on the court is important. She is a wonderful person.”

Sykora feels being a strong leader is one of the key elements of being a successful setter so that’s why she tries to exude a positive attitude.

She also relishes being involved with most plays and likes the challenge of running an offense, trying to set to the right hitters at the right time.

Sykora credits playing with players like Green and senior middle hitter Katie Vohnoutka have helped in her success. Green and Vohnoutka both earned All-American honors last season. Senior middle hitter Ashley Beseman has also been a key contributor for the solid senior class.

“I like setting up other people for success,” said Sykora. “I love that Jenna and Katie are All-Americans and that they are awesome. I love that I am able to play with them and be a part of that.”

Readers can reach Forum reporter Eric Peterson at (701) 241-5513.

Peterson’s blog can be found at peterson.areavoices.com