Coming up in Augie sports

Megan Wendt

Three Augustana volleyball players were named to the Black Hills State University (BHSU) Yellow Jacket Classic all-tournament team on Sept. 11. Freshman Marissa Johnson, junior Holly Hafemeyer and senior Jordan Spatenka represented the Vikings who went 4-0 at the tournament held in early September.

“That was a great weekend,” Spatenka said. “There was a lot of connection and we really played hard as a team.”

Though this is her fourth season with the Vikings, the BHSU tournament was Spatenka’s first all-tournament team experience.

Assistant volleyball coach Casey Nikkel said players are nominated by coaches of opposing teams for all-tournament team consideration. Both individual performance and the team’s overall record within the tournament are considered during the selection process. Tournament officials help finalize the all-tournament team.

Both Nikkel and Spatenka were impressed with Johnson’s appearance on the team. “It’s a big accomplishment to be named as a freshman,” Spatenka said.

Nikkel expressed a similar opinion and has been floored with Johnson’s performance since the season began.

“She’s playing good volleyball right now,” Nikkel said. “She’s getting our hitters one-on-one and she’s a good defender, so it was good to see her recognized. Hopefully that’ll give her a little added confidence going into conference play.”

Johnson said she is excited to have been selected for the team at this point in her career, yet hesitates to take all the credit. “It helps when you have good leaders, too,” she said.

The upperclassmen are part of the reason Johnson decided to pursue her collegiate volleyball career at Augie.

“I walked in and the girls seemed like a team,” Johnson said. “I could tell early on that I was going to fit in really well.”

Though Johnson said the transition from high school to collegiate volleyball can be a bit mind-boggling, her hunch about becoming part of the team has proven true.  “It’s been a little overwhelming because the demands are really, really high for me as a freshman, but it’s been good because I have a lot of older girls to take care of me,” Johnson said.

The Vikings opened conference play on Sept. 14 with a win over Upper Iowa. After a strong start to the season, the ladies lost their next two matches to Winona State and Wayne State, respectively.

The team will travel to Minnesota this weekend to face Bemidji State tonight and University of Minnesota- Crookston on Saturday evening.