Nine from Henry County named to All-GTNS team
None of the area volleyball teams made it all the way to the state tournament this season, but plenty of good volleyball was still found in Southeast Iowa, along with many talented players that have found their way onto this year’s All-Golden Triangle News Service volleyball team.
The Southeast Conference champions, the Mt. Pleasant Panthers, make up the majority of the All-GTNS large schools volleyball team, and on the small schools team are players who were able to lead their respective teams as far as the regional final.
Mt. Pleasant head coach Jeff Schulz gets the nod as All-GTNS Large Schools Coach of the Year.
In his first year at the helm, the Panthers went 29-5 on the season and swept through the conference, claiming the SEC title with a perfect 8-0 record. They also claimed titles in four tournaments this season — tournaments at Osceola, Ottumwa, Burlington and at home.
The Panthers’ season was cut short when they met Class 4A’s second-ranked team, Solon, on the road in their regional semifinal game.
A big part of Mt. Pleasant’s success this year was their height throughout the lineup and a powerful front row.
Leading the way at the net for the second straight season were junior Kelsi Phipps and senior Taryne Shull.
Phipps had a team-high 192 kills on the season with a kill efficiency of .313. She also led the team in blocks with 83. Shull came up with 185 kills on the year and put up 69 blocks, second on the team in both categories. Shull has already earned all-district honors for her efforts. Both Phipps and Shull were first team all-conference selections, and now both make an appearance on the All-GTNS team as well.
They are joined by teammate Brianne Holtkamp, who is a first-time selection for the All-GTNS team. The senior and first team all-conference selection played her first season of volleyball with the Panthers this year after transferring to Mt. Pleasant from Holy Trinity Catholic for her junior year. Holtkamp was the only Panther who played all the way around, and she finished third on the team in kills with 143 and second in digs with 289.
The Mt. Pleasant team leader in digs was Brianne Potts, who had 451 on the season — the seventh-highest total in Class 4A. The Panther senior also led the team in ace serves with 58, and had a serving efficiency of .972 — not only a team high, but also a conference high among players with at least 50 serves on the season. For her efforts, the Mt. Pleasant libero was named the Southeast Conference Player of the Year, and is also named All-GTNS Large Schools Captain.
Potts shared conference Player of the Year honors with Fairfield libero Sydney Burnett, who also makes her first appearance on the All-GTNS volleyball team.
Burnett led Fairfield in serve reception with 73 percent and also recorded 399 digs. Opposing teams constantly had to find ways to hit and serve around her defense. The senior and all-district selection was also a key server, going 306-316 serves during the season. She won the team’s Best Defensive Player Award and the Hustle Award.
Burnett’s teammate Marisa Repp rounds out the All-GTNS large schools squad. Repp was an outside force for the Trojans in 2013. The senior played many different positions during her time as a varsity player, but settled in as an outside hitter to give her best performance yet. Repp not only led Fairfield with 240 kills, but she was efficient as she did it, recording an 81 percent success rate on her attacks. She made second team All-Conference in 2013 and was voted by her teammates as the team’s Most Valuable Player.
Small schools team
After former coach Cindy Miller moved on to coach Mid-Prairie, Iowa Mennonite athletic director Dwight Gingerich had the task of taking over the volleyball program. It wasn’t an unfamiliar role for him, having coached the team three years ago, when this year’s seniors were freshmen.
He proved he was up to the task, as IMS finished ranked No. 14 after being ranked for much of the season, and under his tutelage, IMS advanced all the way to the regional final, earning Gingerich All-GTNS Small Schools Coach of the Year honors.
Gingerich wasn’t the only coach to lead his team to the regional final. New London’s Maureen Heath and W-MU’s Dave Pieart also took their respective teams within one win of the state tournament, and now two players from each of these three teams find themselves on the All-GTNS squad.
The first is Casey Perez of IMS, whose accolades and numbers speak for themselves. The senior was second team all-state and earned all-district honors as well after being the primary setter for a team that advanced to the regional final.
She was also one of the team’s best hitter, and might have been even better had she played that role more — she averaged 1.53 kills, which was second on the team to Olivia Yutzy, another All-GTNS selection. Perez was also tied for ninth in the state with 0.68 aces per set among servers that played at least 90 sets. She will leave IMS as one of the better setters the school has seen, and makes her last appearance on the All-GTNS team as captain.
Yutzy made the team captain selection a difficult one. She was clearly the top hitter for IMS, averaging 4.55 kills per set, which ranks fifth in Class 1A. Her serving was solid, too — her success rate was 91.9 percent.
IMS counted on Yutzy all season as it finished with a 26-10 record and deep regional final tourney run. Yutzy garnered an all-district selection and third team all-state honors.
Two New London players were also given all-state recognition, and also make an appearance on this year’s All-GTNS team.
Emily Parks did it all for New London — except for the setting, and Sarah Holtkamp took care of that.
Parks led the Tigers with 328 kills on the season, the 10th-highest total in Class 1A, and was an asset for the team in the back row as well. She had 326 digs on the season, second only to New London libero Sami Koontz (402). Parks also served 40 aces for the Tigers.
Holtkamp is an all-state setter who finished the season with 757 assists — the fifth-highest total in Class 1A. She also served a team-best 65 aces. The pair of Tigers helped lead New London, which was highly ranked all season, to an overall record of 37-7 and a regional final appearance.
W-MU made its second-straight regional final appearance this season, where they were taken out for the second year by top-ranked Holy Trinity.
The Wolves finished their season 25-11, and two players that had a big hand in the Wolves success were seniors Shelby Therme and Erica Robison, the final two All-GTNS selections.
Therme, who received all-conference and all-district honors, led the team with both 319 digs and 54 aces this season. She played all the way around, finishing second on the team in kills with 207, behind only Robison.
Robison, an all-conference, all-district and all-state selection, put down 269 kills on the year and put up 51 blocks, another team-high.
The 2013 All-GTNS teams are selected by sports editors Ashlee De Wit of the Mt. Pleasant News, Allyus Fritz of the Fairfield Ledger and Hunter Tickel of the Washington Evening Journal.