SLN All-Area Volleyball
By Mike Ramczyk
With the Christmas season approaching, it’s time to fill your hearts and minds with a stocking stuffer – the inaugural Southern Lakes Newspapers All-Area volleyball team.
The super team features athletes from all 15 of our schools, including 15 girls varsity and four boys varsity squads.
Along with staff writer Jason Arndt and sports correspondents Chris Bennett, Tim Wester and Kevin Cunninghman, we scoured the area for the absolute best of the best, trying to come up with a who’s who of area talent.
Tough decisions were made, as the area features Division 1 girls state runner-up Burlington along with powerhouse girls squad Westosha Central.
Throw in the Westosha Central boys, winners of the Southern Lakes Conference championship, the much-improved Union Grove boys and the state-ranked East Troy girls, and there was plenty of area success on the court.
Team success was highly considered when choosing the squad, along with the eye test, accolades and overall impact on his or her team.
Who had that “wow” factor when hitting the ball?
Who struck fear in opponents?
And who could save an attempted spike, no matter if it was mere inches from the ground?
Enjoy the very first SLN All-Area Volleyball squad.
Coach of the year
Dan Dresen, Union Grove boys volleyball
Dresen has worked magic with the Broncos, who have only had a boys volleyball program for four seasons.
In the team’s fourth varsity season, the Broncos finished 17-8 overall, won the program’s first playoff team and became a contender in the Southern Lakes Conference.
In the SLC’s first season for boys volleyball, the Grove finished in the top half, just under Westosha Central and much more established programs.
Grove’s impressive season of historic firsts was led by Dresen’s solid coaching style.
He’s a laid-back, player’s coach who maintained confidence he would build the program, even through challenging beginnings.
Dresen wasn’t surprised his team had so much success in 2016.
Look for a continued climb from the Broncos.
Player of the Year
Mia Grunze, junior, Waterford
The best hitter in the area, Grunze is an imposing 6-foot-2 presence that can do it all on the court.
With a hitting percentage of .349, Grunze was first in the Southern Lakes Conference in kills with 81, despite missing one match while in Puerto Rico playing for the USA Youth National Team.
Grunze was one of 12 kids in the country taken on the elite volleyball trip.
Grunze was first team all-state, SLC player of the year and was second in county player of the year voting.
Grunze had 320 total kills, along with 269 digs, 25 aces and 22 blocks.
Waterford coach Ashley Ingish said Grunze is knowledgeable and is an excellent teammate and mentor for other players.
Grunze has verbally committed to play college ball at Ohio State University.
Reba Thomsen, senior, Burlington
Thomsen was one of the most versatile leaders in the area, playing setter and hitter.
She earned first team all-county, first team all-SLC and honorable mention all-state.
A three-year varsity starter, Thomsen tallied 215 kills, 63 aces, 357 assists and 249 digs, and she was the vocal leader for a team that finished as the Division 1 state runner-up.
She will play setter at Drury University next fall.
“Reba had a jack-of-all-trades season, switching from her primary position of setter to a hitter role, yet constantly contributed on defense as a second setter,” said Burlington head coach Teri Leach.
Alyssa Turzenski, senior, Burlington
Another multi-faceted volleyball player who’s played multiple positions, Turzenski contributed in all six rotations and was one of the top outside hitters in the area.
She will play volleyball at Division 1 Iowa State University next season.
Turzenski was selected to the state all-tournament team and earned first team all-county and honorable
mention all-state honors.
She had 57 aces, 213 kills, 17 block kills and 371 digs.
Kaeley Mueller, senior, Westosha Central
A second team all-state pick, Mueller will play college volleyball at Division 2 Quincy University (Ill.).
A four-year varsity player, Mueller had 294 kills, 52 blocks and 216 digs.
A co-captain with Sarah Blair, she served at 93 percent and earned first team all-conference honors.
“Kaeley was our on-the-court leader and contributed to our success with more than stats,” said Westosha head coach Charlie Berg.
Robert Walusay, senior, Union Grove
The all-Racine County player of the year, Walusay was a first team all-conference and honorable mention all-state performer.
Walusay is a pioneer for the Union Grove boys volleyball program, which is only four years old.
He’s the first player to go through the program a full four years and is the first county player of the year.
A fierce outside hitter, Walusay was the go-to guy when the Grove needed a big point.
Sarah Blair, senior, Westosha Central
An honorable mention all-state libero, Blair was a team co-captain and helped lead the Lady Falcons to a second-place finish in the Southern Lakes.
Blair was a three-year starter and led the team in digs with 681.
She added 58 assists.
Blair served at 92 percent with 60 aces.
“I consider Sarah one of the best liberos in the conference,” Berg said.
Drake Muhlenbeck, senior, Westosha Central
A real high flyer, Muhlenbeck can jump out of the gym and slam home a volleyball from 12 to 6 in a flash.
The outside hitter was the Southern Lakes Conference player of the year, and he will play at Erskine University next year.
Muhlenbeck earned third team all-state.
“He’s a great all-around player,” said Westosha coach Wayne Schultz.
Abby Koenen, junior, Burlington
Named to the Division 1 state all-tournament team and first team all-county, Koenen led the Demons in kills with 301, and she added 39 block kills and 74 digs.
The booming outside hitter has one of the most powerful swings in the area, and she will be in serious contention for player of the year next season.
Koenen was a second team all-SLC selection.
“Abby had a great season, really finding her way in the second half of the season,” Leach said.
Megan Wallace, senior, Burlington
A first team all-conference middle blocker, Wallace, also a track and basketball star, is one of the best all-around athletes in the area.
She tallied 208 kills with a .394 hitting percentage and added 44 blocks.
Wallace was honorable mention all-county and is considering playing volleyball at St. Cloud University next season.
“Megan was one of the most athletic middles in the state this season,” Leach said. “He speed and quickness allowed her to be an extremely effective middle hitter.”
Connor Muff, junior, Westosha Central
The setter was first team all-conference.
He is a true leader on the floor, making sound decisions with a high volleyball IQ.
“He’s a strong leader and is very competitive,” Schultz said.
Devin Coleman, senior, Wilmot
A setter for the Panthers, Coleman helped guide the team to its best record in at least a decade.
Coleman earned first team all-conference in one of the toughest leagues in the state.
Maddie Berezowitz, sophomore, Burlington
A defensive leader, Berezowitz accomplished second team all-conference libero and first team all-county.
Moreover, she was displayed court awareness and leadership despite her youth.
Berezowitz recorded 376 digs, 64 aces and 24 assists.
Laura Shoopman, sophomore, Westosha Central
A 6-foot-2 outside hitter, Shoopman has gotten stronger on the court and more versatile since her freshman year.
An honorable mention all-state pick, Shoopman was first team all-conference.
She led the Falcons in kills with 329, added 221 digs and 47 blocks.
“She was a six-rotation player and was very effective for us as a back row attacker,” Berg said. “Laura was instrumental in our success this year.”
Sam Rovik, senior, Wilmot boys
A first team all-conference and honorable mention all-state selection, Rovik led the team in kills with 306 and blocks with 57.
He added 155 digs.
“Sam is one of the finest athletes in the state this year,” said Wilmot coach David Reidl. “His importance to our team and his abilities as a player can not be overstated.”
Malik Tiedt, sophomore, Burlington
Team captain, led team with 153 kills, second on team in digs and aces, third in blocks, team MVP, first team all-SLC, missed all-Racine County POY by 1 vote
“Malik is an outstanding young man, works hard in school and is the only guy that played all the way around, all year long,” said Burlington coach Mike Jones.
Kaley Blake, freshman, Burlington
“Ran Demon offense with great efficiency as she utilized her natural feel for the game and great vision,” Leach said, 741 assists, 223 digs, 86 aces, 27 kills, honorable mention all-state
Gloria Esarco, senior, Walworth Big Foot
346 kills, 54 aces, first team all-Rock Valley Conference, 315 digs
“Gloria once again was a major contributor to our team’s success not only in her skills, but her work ethic and leadership,” said Big Foot coach Caitlin Dowden.
Karlee Lois, freshman, Union Grove
2nd team all-SLC, honorable mention all-county, started season as right side/setter and finished as libero due to shoulder pain, 417 digs, 274 assists, 173 kills, 32 aces, 15 blocks
“She is a great defensive setter,” said head coach Annie Sireno.
Erin Dietzler, senior, Mukwonago
Outside hitter, team captain, 4-year varsity player, HM all-state, 92 serve percentage, 6th in Classic 8 conference in kills
“Erin has a presence on the court,” said Mukwonago coach Allison Glisch. “She is a vocal leader on and off the court, pulling her team together.”
Brianna Scuric, sophomore, East Troy
6-rotation player, honorable mention all-state, outside hitter, 522 kills, 361 digs
“She is a very dynamic player that has a huge impact on each match,” said coach Jeremy Weis. “Her teammates love playing with her because of the energy she brings.”
Abi Marcquenski, senior, Westosha Central
233 kills, .281 hitting percentage (led team), 88 blocks, served 92 percent, 51 digs, three-year starter, team co-defensive player of year
“She’s a quick middle blocker and ran a very effective slide for us,” Berg said.
Kennedy Muff, sophomore, Westosha Central
484 assists, 69 blocks, served 95 percent, 123 digs
“An outstanding upbeat spirit of our team,” Berg said.
Brooklyn Vandehei, junior, Burlington
Spent most of season as outside hitter, but logged time as setter and on defense, 151 digs, 126 kills, HM all-SLC
“Brooklyn contributed to the Demons’ successful season from just about every position on the court,” Leach said.
Myah Kurhajec, senior, Waterford
50 aces, 337 digs, HM all-SLC, team co-MVP
“I’ve never known another player as versatile as her, and whatever position we put her in, she excels,” coach Ashley Ingish said.
Becca Blakeley, junior, Williams Bay
Setter/right side, 1st team all-Trailways 3 years, 389 assists, 259 kills, 217 digs, helped team to first-place tie in Trailways South
Dax Cramer, junior, Union Grove
Setter, 1st team all-county, 1st team all-conference, ran one of most dynamic offenses in area
Lindsey Lehman, senior, Burlington Catholic Central
Libero, team MVP, captain, HM all-Metro Classic, 328 digs
“This was my first year working with her, and she really took over on the leadership side,” said coach Bailey Racky.
Kenna Timmerman, senior, Delavan-Darien
Outside hitter, 2nd team all-SLC
Victoria Hodkiewicz, senior, Lake Geneva Badger
Outside hitter, 2nd team all-SLC