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College volleyball: MW volleyball team is young and energetic

Minnesota West volleyball player Shelby Pourier taps the ball over the net in practice as teammate Emily Shaffer stands by. (Tim Middagh/The Globe)

WORTHINGTON -- First-year players will provide much of the energy for the 2018 Minnesota West Technical and Community College volleyball team, which will give first-year head coach Rebecca Colon ample opportunities to mold the Lady Jays’ the way she wants them.

Colon wants her players to hustle on the court, and to communicate well.

“It changes the game completely. Communication, hustle and energy. And it breaks other teams down,” Colon said.

The Lady Jays play their first match Friday at Hibbing Community College.

Sophomores on the team include 5-8 Rebecca Sjogren of Adrian, 5-10 Emily Shaffer of Worthington, 5-11 Avery Van Roekel of Hills-Beaver Creek, 5-4 Morgan Kern of Adrian and 6-0 Andrea Hinkeldey of Heron Lake-Okabena. Freshmen are 5-6 Haley Unke of Lakeview, Kodie Henderson of Aztec, N.M., Shelby Pourier of Pine Ridge, S.D., Stephanie Pizarro of Puerto Rico and Kiana Leighty of Heron Lake-Okabena.

Minnesota West will employ a 5-1 offense. Though positions are still up for grabs, Colon said Unke could emerge. “Consistency. She’s very consistent and she hustles, and she talks to her hitters,” said the coach.

The Jays also have some talented hitters, including Shaffer, Leighty, Van Roekel and Hinkeldey. Van Roekel and Hinkeldey were outstanding players on the West women’s basketball team that won a division title last winter.

Shaffer returns to Worthington after playing volleyball for the University of Wisconsin-Superior last season.

“The game was a lot quicker (compared to high school),” Shaffer recalled this week. “I had to get off the net quicker so I can get to the approach.”

She said she’s glad to be back in her home town.

“Being so close to my dad, it was really hard to be five hours away from him. Also, I have a lot of friends here, and they can come and see me play,” she said.

Shaffer said she’s noticed that the 2018 team has a lot of energy, and even in practice they’re good at cheering their teammates on.

And that’s what Colon likes to see.

“They definitely have potential. We’ve had very few practices, but with the practices we’ve had I’ve been very happy with what they’ve brought to the court,” she said of the group.   

Doug Wolter

Doug Wolter is the Daily Globe sports editor. He served as sports reporter, then sports editor, news editor and finally managing editor at the Daily Globe for 22 years before leaving for seven years to work as night news editor at the Mankato Free Press in Mankato. Doug now lives in Worthington with his wife, Sandy. They have three children and seven grandchildren. Doug, retired after a lengthy career in fast-pitch softball, enjoys reading, strumming his acoustic guitar and hanging around his grandchildren. He also writes books on fiction. Two of his stories, "The Genuine One" and "The Old Man in Section 129" have been distributed through a national publisher.

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