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Eric Peterson, Published November 10 2011

Cobbers senior standouts Vohnoutka, Green reflect on careers as national title chase begins

Moorhead - Jenna Green was only a handful of matches into her Concordia volleyball career when she earned the nickname, “HM.”

Green and her teammates were taking a trip to Colorado Springs, Colo., to compete in an early season tournament.

Green showed up a bit over-packed.

“Nobody told me what to pack, so I had like three pairs of sweats, I had two pairs of jeans and I had shoes for every day, so they gave me the ‘high maintenance’ award, and it’s stuck ever since,” Green said with a chuckle.

“She shows up in a nice outfit and everyone else is in their sweatpants,” said Katie Vohnoutka, who was in that same freshman recruiting class with Green.

“So she does deserve that nickname, because of what she did freshman year.”

Now seniors, Green and Vohnoutka both laugh when they remember that scene. Both are four-year starters and have created many more memories since, during their stellar careers that are nearing an end.

The Cobbers (25-3) play Wisconsin-Stevens Point at 8 p.m. today in the first round of the NCAA Division III tournament at Memorial Auditorium.

“It’s really why I came to Concordia, the chance to compete for a national championship,” Green said. “We want to get to the Elite Eight, but more importantly, we want a national championship.”

Green ranks fourth on the school’s career kills list with 1,342. Vohnoutka ranks seventh with 1,240. Green is also Concordia’s career digs lead with 1,450.

“Quite honestly, I can’t remember a better 1-2 punch in any class that we’ve had,” Cobbers head coach Tim Mosser said. “They’ve raised the bar here at Concordia. They’ve really helped raise our standard, not just to be a top-25 team, to really be a top-10 team. That’s something we didn’t have before.”

While the two have had similar success, they do it in different ways. Green, a 5-foot-11 outside hitter, is a vocal and intense presence on the court. She is a crafty hitter who can change pace and picks spots to get kills.

Vohnoukta, a 5-11 middle hitter from Eden Prairie, Minn., has more of a laid-back personality than Green, but has a wicked power game.

“Katie is a powerhouse,” said Concordia senior Ashley Beseman, who is a three-year starter. “Jenna is really smart on the court.”

Vohnoutka’s teammates call her “Tooks,” a play off her last name. Vohnoutka at times impresses her teammates with her ability to make a tough play look easy.

“It’s just funny because Katie can get a horrible set and just put it down, and it’s like, ‘She pulled a Tooks.’ ” Beseman said. “She doesn’t have to really try, so we tease her.”

Green, Vohnoutka, Beseman and senior setter Amy Sykora were freshmen on the Concordia team that lost in the region final in 2008, a match short of the Elite Eight.

“We’re just like the core stuck together,” said Vohnoutka.

The Cobbers are 10-0 at home this season, losing just two sets. Concordia has won its past 19 home matches dating back to 2009. Three more home wins and the Cobbers are in the national quarterfinals.

“We all have very specific goals that we have wanted to achieve all season and we keep on checking them off,” Green said. “This is just another set of goals we want to check off on the board.”

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

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