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Minnesota West signs volleyball recruits

WORTHINGTON -- As the Minnesota West volleyball program signed five athletes to play for the Lady Jays next season, head coach Janet Haren is getting more than just quality volleyball players.

"We're really lucky with the recruits that we have and with the girls that we have coming back," Haren said. "I think these girls display what we want out of our volleyball program, with awesome attitudes and being smart girls in the classroom as well."

Wednesday, Minnesota West signed Kiah Vik from George, Iowa, Amanda Murray from Alexandria, S.D., Elly Schmitz from Round Lake-Brewster and Ally Rotert and Rachel Pavelko, both from Worthington.

"I think they'll bring a lot of energy," Haren said. "I see a lot of spunk out of them. If anything, we'll be known for our hustling and our hard work and our dedication. As a coach, that's what you're looking for."

While the players will all be wearing the same colors, each player will bring a different set of skills to the court.

"It opens a few more doors," Haren said. "Elly is left-handed, and Ally is a really good blocker and can also put the ball away. Amanda is just all-around athletic, and Kiah will go through a wall for a ball."

Both Pavelko and Rotert will stay close to home and help the Lady Jay program.

"(Pavelko) is a strong player and a good all-around athlete," Haren said. "She'll be a good addition for us."

While Pavelko is a defensive specialist, Rotert will be a middle for the Lady Jays.

With aspirations of becoming a pediatrician, Rotert will be able to continue her academic progression as well as her athletic ability.

"With the Presidential scholarship, it was a money-saver, and that way, I can still live at home with my parents," Rotert said. "I've always had fun playing volleyball, so I might as well keep playing as long as I can."

As a left-handed middle, Schmitz brings a different look to the MW front line. However, it was Haren and her family-oriented program that drew Schmitz to Worthington.

"I think she gets the family involved, and I like family-oriented sports," Schmitz said. "I always want my family to be there, and I think she feels the same way about her family."

Vik is a defensive specialist who completed a year in Sheldon, Iowa, while in high school and will have one more year to play volleyball.

"I've already completed my freshman year in Sheldon, Iowa, and since I graduated early, this is my first year out of high school," Vik said. "Last year, I was playing for George-Little Rock, so this year, I wanted to play volleyball one more year."

One thing that drew Vik to West was Haren and the coaching staff.

"I don't know her very well so far, but what I do know is that she's been very good about getting a hold of me and letting me know when things are," Vik said. "She's very personable."

While the other four signees are from a close proximity, Amanda Murray comes to Worthington from Hanson High School, nearly two hours from MW.

"It's kind of like my high school, and I'm used to small," Murray said. "I like playing sports, and they have what I like. It was just my interest to come here."

For her, it was also Haren who convinced her to make the journey to becoming a Lady Jay.

"I met with the coach and got along with her; she really helped out a lot with choosing where I wanted to go," Murray said. "I talked with the girls, and I got along with them."

With new players to complement the returning players, Haren hopes the team bonds quickly.

"You never know at the junior college level," Haren said. "I'm always surprised every year with how fast they get to know each other. I think they realize that we're all striving for the same goal."