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St. James volleyball earns academic all-state team honors, announces award winners at banquet

Sean Ellertson
St. James Plaindealer

The St. James volleyball program finally put a bow on their 2020 season with the traditional end-of-season awards banquet held inside the St. James High School Event Center on Sunday afternoon.

"This past season was difficult and one that I hope nobody has to experience again, but with that being said, we're here to recognize the positives of this season," opened head coach Jodi Geistfeld.

The 2020 Saints went 4-6 in their shortened season, but tested always tough St. Peter and earned a good win against Waseca at home.

In the second year under Geistfeld's leadership, the Saints continued to buy into her up-tempo offense.

Geistfeld highlighted her team's ability to adjust and adapt throughout the season, as guidelines continued to shift and matches were continuously shuffled.

Off the court, the varsity club earned academic all-state gold status, with a team GPA of 3.75 or higher.

Another highlight for the Saints came in the season finale against Fairmont, where senior setter Maddie Brey earned her 1,000th career set assist. Brey finished her career with 1,015 set assists. 

For her work on and off the court, Brey was named the team MVP and was also an All-Big South Conference selection. Brey finished her senior season with 235 set assists, 95% serving, 23 aces, 74 digs, 20 kills, and five solo blocks. Brey was named academic all-state for having a 3.80 or higher GPA over the course of her career.

Addie Bowers joined Brey on the All-Conference team and was named the team's most improved player. The sophomore middle hitter switched positions from an outside hitter and tallied 67 kills and a 91% serve receive—both of which ranked second on the team. She also led the Saints with 14 ace blocks, a 103 digs. She also recorded 12 ace serves.

Chloe Mickelson was named a Big South Honorable Mention, and the team's defensive player of the year. Mickelson, like Bowers, switched positions for St. James, moving from her libero position to outside hitter.

Mickelson's 63 kills ranked 3rd on the club, and her 23 ace serves and 95% serve receive led the Saints. The senior also had 95 digs, which ranked second on the roster. Mickelson concludes her career with 497 digs.

Kelsey Grunewald was named the team's offensive player of the year. 

Grunewald ranked fourth on the team in kills, highest kill efficiency, second on the team in serving percentage, third on the team in blocks, fourth on the team in digs.

Next year's Saints will be captained by Taylor Sodeman and Mackenzie Christensen.

Awards:

Spotlight on Scholarship: Addie Bowers, Maddie Brey, Tyler Chapin, Mackenzie Christensen, Kelsey Grunewald, Yahaira Haycraft, Lydia Kolden-Carlson, Alli Malmgren, Chloe Mickelson, Alma Rodriguez, Destiny Sawatzky, Emma Schmidt, Taylor Sodeman, McKenna Steinbrink, Lunden Swanson, Teresa Tobar, Phoebe Wiken-Drescher

Letter winners: Addie Bowers, Maddie Brey, Tyler Chapin, Mackenzie Christensen, Kelsey Grunewald, Alli Malmgren, Chloe Mickelson, Alma Rodriguez, Taylor Sodeman, Teresa Tobar

Quickest player: Mackenzie Christensen

Strongest player: Lunden Swanson