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Talk it up: The West Lady Jays volleyball squad is stepping it up, communication-wise, on the floor

The Minnesota West volleyball team looks for more consistency in 2022

The 2022 Minnesota West Lady Jays volleyball team is (front, from left) Kiarra Danielson, Sophie Larson, Courtney Moser, Jaenid Torres, (back row) Kat Polzine, Kennedy Buckneborg, Hattie DeVries, Dannyn Peterson and Maya Doyen. (Not shown: Karissa Maxwell and Sami Polzin.
The 2022 Minnesota West Lady Jays volleyball team is (front, from left) Kiarra Danielson, Sophie Larson, Courtney Moser, Jaenid Torres, (back row) Kat Polzine, Kennedy Buckneborg, Hattie DeVries, Dannyn Peterson and Maya Doyen. (Not shown: Karissa Maxwell and Sami Polzin.
Tim Middagh / The Globe
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WORTHINGTON -- The Minnesota West Community and Technical College volleyball team had some ups, and had some downs, in 2021. Sometimes the Lady Jays had more than their share of ups and downs on the same night.

One of the biggest issues was on-court communication, which head coach Brittney McNab and the veteran players say has already been addressed positively during the first week of practice.

Dannyn Peterson, one of three returning sophomores for the Jays, said camaraderie between players clicked right off the bat.

Minnesota West LadyJays (front to back) Maya Doyen, Courtney Moser and Dannyn Peterson rotate through a drill during a volleyball practice Wednesday afternoon.
Minnesota West volleyball players (front to back) Maya Doyen, Courtney Moser and Dannyn Peterson rotate through a drill during a practice session.
Tim Middagh / The Globe

“Our first practice, we all communicated so well together. It was a huge improvement over last year, even at the end of the season,” she said.

McNab says the 2022 players appear to be naturally communicative. They’re positive and people-oriented, and they just like to talk.

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“Their communication is leaps and bounds better than last year. They’re a lot of small-town girls coming together. They all feed off each other,” said the coach, who recalled the crickets she too often heard while on the sidelines during matches. “I was yelling more from the bench than they were talking on the floor.”

The Lady Jays, who open the regular season Aug. 24 at home against Dakota State JV, are led by second-year performers Peterson (right hitter; Tulare, S.D.), Kennedy Buckneberg (outside hitter; Garretson, S.D.) and Jaenid Torres (back row; Puerto Rico). Freshmen include Kiarra Danielson (hitter and back-up setter; Tracy-Milroy-Balaton High School), Hattie Mae DeVries (middle hitter; Roseville), Courtney Moser (setter; Highmore, S.D.), Sophie Larson (utility; Slayton), Kararina Polzine (Adrian), Maya Doyen (hitter, Maple River), Sami Polzin (right hitter; Baltic, S.D.) and Karissa Maxwell (back row; Worthington).

There may be one or two others ready to join the team. Either way, it’s offense that has McNab looking favorably on the team’s prospects.

“I think we’ll have a much stronger front row than we’ve had. But our back row will need a little work. We’ve got a lot of offense. Just need the defense,” McNab said.

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Buckneberg was Minnesota West’s top hitter last season, and the coach looks for her to provide leadership and consistency. “She’s definitely stepped up, and I can tell that she wants it,” said McNab.

Peterson is coming off a fine basketball season and was also a key player last year on the volleyball team. McNab describes her as an excellent blocker with strong leaping ability and noticeably improved confidence.

Torres is a strong passer who can play libero as well as general back-row duty.

West will employ a 5-1 offense, with one setter. Depth is an issue, so much time will be spent in practice attempting to develop dependable setting and back-row pieces.

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McNab believes she’s got a good start on getting the Lady Jays up to speed, however, just from the attitudes she sees on the practice floor.

“I think (communication) is by far the most important skill ever,” she said. “If they want to be here and play, they’re going to learn to talk. I think we have a lot of girls who want to play.”

Doug Wolter joined the Worthington Globe in December of 1983 as a sports reporter. He later became sports editor, and then news editor and managing editor. In 2006 he moved to Mankato with his wife, Sandy, and served as an editor at the Mankato Free Press. In 2013 he and Sandy returned to Worthington to take up the job of sports editor at The Globe, and they have been in Worthington since.

Doug can be reached at dwolter@dglobe.com.
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