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Minnesota’s top high school volleyball players: Meet the state’s best hitters

Who are the top hitters in Minnesota high school volleyball this season?
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This week, we’ll be taking a position-by-position look at some of the top players in Minnesota high school volleyball. This list will cover the state’s premier hitters.

There are hundreds of standout volleyball players in Minnesota and these lists are not intended to be comprehensive.

Note: Some stats have been updated more recently than others.

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Sydney Jaynes, senior, Northfield

Jaynes leads the 16-2 Raiders in kills. On the year, she has 190 kills, 33 aces and 182 digs, according to MNvolleyballhub. She’ll be off to the University of Tennessee next year where she’ll play libero but has played outside for coach Tim Torstenson her whole high school career. 

“She is one of the top outside hitters in the state,” he said.

Teagan Timperley, senior, Northfield

Timperley is Northfield’s other “go to” hitter, according to Torstenson. She’s been a setter for the Raiders for the past two years, but was asked to take on a new role this year. She’s flourished, tallying 116 kills, 97 assists, 37 aces and 150 digs. 

“She is a talented player that can play any position,” Torstenson said. Next season, Timperley will be attending the University of North Dakota to play as a setter and hitter.

Tessa Erlandson, senior, Kenyon-Wanamingo

The Kenyon Wanamingo Knights are off to a 13-4-1 start in a top-heavy class 1A. Erlandson, who plays all six rotations, has helped key the impressive start. She leads the Knights in kills (218) and digs (203). 

“(She’s a) great leader on and off the court,” coach Tracy Erlandson said. “Has great court awareness, dependable and a positive vocal leader. She is a very hard-working player who has set high standards for herself and team.”

Gabby Wachholz, senior, Mayer Lutheran

In her fifth year on varsity, Wachholz is leading a 15-3 team that’s ranked No. 2 in 1A. She’s accumulated 184 kills and 154 digs in 51 sets played. 

“She has become this year's team leader both in her skills and her determination to push this team to the next level,” coach Joelle Grimsley said.

Photo by Earl Ebensteiner

Photo by Earl Ebensteiner

Sydney Schnichels, senior, Willmar

Standing at 6-foot-4, Schnichels, a University of Minnesota commit, is ranked No. 3 state-wide with 293 kills. She reached her 1,000 kill milestone this season and has a total of 1,118 kills in her career at Willmar (13-2). 

“She is a great leader and always works hard to make her teammates better and herself,” coach Leah Brogdon said.

Ella Olson, senior, Kittson Central

This season is Olson’s first as a varsity starter, and she’s in the midst of a breakout season. A hip injury sidelined her for a majority of last season. Now, she’s become a go-to hitter for coach Tina Turn with 219 kills and 150 digs. “She plays good defense for us as well and passes well on serve receive.”

Berlyn Strege, sophomore, Kittson Central

Strege has spent both of the last two seasons on varsity for coach Turn. She played defense only last season. 

“She is a premiere back row player for us who is learning to be a weapon on offense,” Turn said. “She doesn't have the biggest or hardest swing, but she is smart about finding holes, hitting shots and using the block to her advantage.” 

Strege has 124 kills and 194 digs on the year.

Sophia Gartner, senior, Byron

Gartner is a key hitter for Shane Plummer’s 11-4 Byron squad. She’s secured 173 kills, 32 aces, 23 blocks and 140 digs for the No. 8 team in the 3A class.

Corbyn Menz, senior, Delano

A Northern State commit, Menz finished a recent match against Benilde-St. Margaret's with 30 kills. She’s up to 221 for the season now. 

“(She) is very coachable and an ultimate competitor,” coach Becca Rue said.

Samantha VanHeel, senior, Albany

Now in her fourth and final season on varsity, VanHeel is starring for the 13-8 Huskies. She’s recorded 122 kills and 148 digs thus far. 

“Sam is one of the quickest athletes I have coached,” coach Brian Hines said. "She just explodes off the floor and her arm swing is extremely quick. Sam is a six-rotation player for our team and does outstanding at every position on the court.”

Abby Haus, junior, Sartell-St. Stephen

“Abby is a determined athlete with the ability to look at the other side and score,” coach Riley Johnson said. “She is a go-getter and a true competitor.” 

Haus has 136 kills, 20 solo blocks and 34 unassisted blocks this season.

Jaelyn LaPlante, sophomore, Chatfield

Just a second-year player, the 5-foot-8 LaPlante has become one of the state’s most effective hitters. She has tallied 255 kills, good for fourth in Minnesota, for the Gophers.

Ava Ball, sophomore, Nova Classical

Nova Classical is off to a perfect 20-0 start to the year, and sophomore hitter Ava Ball is at the heart of its success. She’s leading the state with 278 kills for the top team in Class 2A.

Maddy Benka, junior, Minnehaha Academy

Benka is also one of the state’s premiere outside hitters. A 5-foot-9 junior, she’s one kill behind Ball with 277 and has had 13 games with at least 15 kills on the year.