Lion seniors lead with "drive and fire"

ABOVE: Rachel Normann passes from back row as Lion netters prepare for scrimmages this week and next week's season and home opener versus Randolph. BELOW: Defensive specialist Paige Jahnke digs during first week of practice. Photos by S. Lee Epps
By : 
S. Lee Epps

"Drive and fire" was a term used by head coach Kelsey Morken to describe the fervor of the five seniors who lead Spring Grove into the 2018 volleyball season, which begins at home on Tuesday, August 28.

The Lions suffered few but significant graduation losses, including one of the most celebrated players in program history. But they also return a highly acclaimed nucleus of netters from a 22-7 season a year ago - their best record in seven seasons. Spring Grove won the 2017 Waukon Tournament title and was runner-up at the Mabel-Canton Tourney.

Departed with diplomas were three seniors - Lauryn Bohr, Jadyn Oleurd and Harlee Gavin - the later termed the "heart of the team" by Morken.

Bohr is the only Lion to ever be named "Conference Player of the Year" by the Southeast Conference coaches. A three-time All-SEC performer and two-time Lion Most Valuable Player is the only player in SG history to record 1,000 kills.

But there are also two veterans with all-conference credentials coming back among six letter winners. Six of last year's eight-player rotation return, including five of the six primary servers.  

Senior MARIAH EDGINGTON has already been all-conference for two seasons and lettered for three years. Last autumn, the 5-foot-7 middle hitter led SG in both ace blocks (49) and ace serves (47). The versatile veteran was second in kills (208), hitting efficiency (22%) and digs (166).

All-SEC setter KAILEE OLERUD will be guiding the attack for the third season after already posting more than 1,000 career assists. The 5-7 senior led the Lions last fall with 652 assists and ranked third with 35 ace serves. 

SYDNIE KAMPSCHROER, a 5-8 senior middle hitter, led the team last year in serving accuracy at 96% while also scoring with 32 aces.

ALYSSA JOHNSON, a 5-7 senior right side hitter served 93% last fall and was second on the team with 35 ace serves.

KYLEIGH DOERING, a 5-7 senior hitter, ranked second in serving accuracy at 95%.

AMELIA SOLUM, a 5-7 junior and two-year letter winner, led the Lions last year as the libero with 199 digs. This year, she is listed as an outside hitter.

Also back from last year's varsity roster is eighth grader MAGGIE LILE who is expected to assume libero duty this autumn.

The year's varsity roster also includes five players with B-team experience, including 5-7 junior right side hitter RAINA CHASE.

There are two sophomores, 5-7 defensive specialist PAIGE JAHNKE and 5-7 outside hitter VaNESSA PETERSON.

RACHEL NORMANN is a 5-5 freshman setter, and ADDYSON McHUGH is a 5-7 eighth grade hitter.

Some on the varsity roster will likely see some B-team action as well along with a group of young candidates, including sophomores Erika Donlan and Kelsey Bratland.

Among 13 freshmen are defensive specialists Ava Olerud and Jordian Leahy along with hitters Hailey Borreson, Hattie Sanness, Julia Halverson, Marley Sherbon, McKenzie Fisch, Emma Tyribakken, Brianna Johnson, Danika Holty, Mikayla Ellis and Brielle Neeley.

Eighth grade setter Lydia Solum is also practicing with the high school squad.

Numbers are strong with 20 junior high candidates. Those eighth, seventh and sixth grade girls are coached by veteran mentor Julianna Lile, who is joined this year by Taylor Elton - the 2012 SG co-Female Athlete of the Year.


Expectations are high with quality experience returning to build upon last year's successful season. Morken said the senior leaders really did a great job this summer and are eager for their final campaign.

Morken expects experience on the back line to be reflected in serving aggressively and with more consistency.

In addition to experience, the coach also noted the overall athleticism of this team.

Emphasis during preseason preparation has been on defense and overall error management. Fewer errors could have made a difference in some closely contested losses last year.

Morken said that home matches will all have themes that should create some additional involvement and enjoyment for fans. Examples offered were "Autograph Night" and "Hometown Heroes Night."

Morken, SG Female Athlete of the Year 2003 and three-sport collegiate athlete at Southwestern (Iowa) Community College, is guiding the program for the fourth season, assisted for the second year by Matt Rosaaen (SG Class of 2002.)


Mabel-Canton will again be the favorite, coming in with a No. 8 state ranking in Class A. Kingsland joins the SEC and will compete in the East Division while Schaeffer Academy moves back to the West. The Knights and Spring Grove could both be formidable SEC East challengers.

The Lions will play home and away matches with the other four East Division rivals - Kingsland, M-C, Houston and Lanesboro. Standings will also reflect single matches versus the six West Division clubs.

Spring Grove will again play in the annual Labor Day weekend tournament at Mabel-Canton and will defend its championship at the Waukon Tournament along with the annual match-up with Caledonia, last year's Class 1A East Sub-section champion.

Following scrimmages at North Iowa (Buffalo Center) and Rushford-Peterson earlier this week, the season opener is also the home and SEC lid-lifter on Tuesday, Aug. 28 versus Randolph. 

Varsity matches begin at approximately 7:15 P.M., following the B-team matches.


An All-SEC setter starts for the third year; Libero appears solid again. There is an exceptional two-time All-SEC hitter; the other attackers will assume more responsibility. Senior leadership should remain strong, and expectations are high.


Lion Volleyball Fast Facts

Head coach - Kelsey Morken 4th year; Asst. coach - Matt Rosaaen 2nd year

Conference championships - 8 or 9?

Last conf. championship -1984

District/sub-sect. championships - 0


LAST YEAR: 22-7 (11-2 SEC, 2nd East)

*Waukon Tourney champion

 *M-C Tourney runner-up

sub-section - No. 4 seed

*def. No. 5 Wabasha-Kellogg

* lost to No. 1 Caledonia


THIS YEAR: 6 letter winners return

High school roster: 5 seniors, 3 juniors, 5 sophomores, 13 freshmen, 3 eighth graders

>>Kingsland joins SEC

East Div: 2017 champ Mabel-Canton & Houston, Lanesboro, Kingsland, Spring Grove

West Div: 2017 champ Grand Meadow & LeRoy-Ostrander, Randolph, Glenville-Emmons, Lyle/Pacelli, Schaeffer Academy


Lions the Last 6 seasons:SG Volleyball

2017…….22-7  (11-2 SEC, 2nd East)

2016…….17-12 (10-4 SEC, 2nd East)

2015…….15-13 (9-5 SEC, 3rd East)

2014…….14-14 (9-5 SEC, 3rd East)

2013…….19-11 (10-3 SEC, 2nd tie)  

2012…….16-12 (10-3 SEC, 2nd East)

total…….103-69 (.599) 


VARSITY VOLLEYBALL*conference match. 

Tues. 8/28…….*Randolph

Thur. 8/30…….*at LeRoy-Ostrander

Sat. 9/01…………at Mabel-Canton Tourney 8 a.m.

Tues. 9/04……..*Lanesboro

Thur. 9/06……..*at Mabel-Canton

Mon. 9/10………*at Glenville-Emmons

Thur. 9/13……...*Schaeffer Academy

Sat. 9/15…………at Waukon Tourney 8 a.m.

Tues. 9/18………*Houston

Thur. 9/20………*at Kingsland

Tues. 9/25………*at Lanesboro

Thur. 9/27………*at Grand Meadow

Tues. 10/02…….*Mabel-Canton (HC)

Mon. 10/08………at Caledonia

Tues. 10/09…….*at Houston

Thurs. 10/11…..*Kingsland

Mon. 10/15……..*Lyle/Pacelli