Bridget Bednar got offensive this year.
The junior was already supplying quality defense at the net, but her offense has been a pleasant surprise for the Pierz Pioneers.
Bednar notched 12 kills, eight digs, six blocks and one set assist and one ace serve in the Pioneers’ 3-1 victory over Little Falls Oct. 15.
One night later, she recorded 19 kills, six digs, four blocks, two ace serves and one set assist in a 3-1 Central Minnesota Conference victory over Maple Lake.
“We knew she was going to be a leader defensively and she’s been a force at the net,” said Pierz head coach Sandy Tautges. “I expected that from her, but I’ve got a lot more offensively that I was expecting. She really improved her hitting and how to cut the ball.”
Bednar has even surprised herself with her offensive production.
“I’ve been hitting a lot better than I did last year,” Bednar. “I thought that would happen, but I didn’t think I would improve as much as I have. It’s easier for me to see where the block is coming from and hit around it this year.”
Entering the Section 6-2A playoffs, Bednar has already tallied 253 kills go to with 11 set assists. Her offense was one thing she worked hard to improve. But it wasn’t the only thing.
“I went to the Central Lakes College camp this summer and they really helped me improve reading the block and hitting,” Bednar said. “But I went there to improve everything, not just my hitting. I was trying to work on my all-around game.”
That work and improvement has allowed Bednar to remain in the rotation throughout a game. She’s serving at an 89-percent rate with 51 ace serves. That’s another bonus for Tautges.
“She’s learned how to play the back row and she wasn’t a back-row player before,” Tautges said. “Her serving has really improved. It’s nice to have someone on the floor for the whole rotation. It’s nice to have that same leader who you know you can go to.”
But the 5-foot-10 Bednar’s biggest contribution to the Pioneers is defensively. She leads the team with 88 blocks and 191 digs.
Tautges said Bednar is able to read the setter and transition quickly to the hitter.
“I love blocking,” said Bednar, who owns a 3.8 grade-point average. “You can tell when you’re frustrating a hitter.”
A strong work ethic from Bednar helped Pierz to an 18-10 regular-season record and a 6-1 conference record. That placed Pierz second in the conference.
“She just comes to practice every day ready to work,” said Tautges. “If she’s struggling with something she isn’t afraid to work at it. She wants to work on it and improve her game.”
Other notable performances:
Cross country: Leric Larson, Pequot Lakes, won the Birch Tree Conference meet with a time of 16:41.
Swimming and diving: Jaelin Beachy, Staples-Motley, set a pool record in the 100-yard breaststroke and won the 50 freestyle against Perham.
Volleyball: Bailey Swensen, Crosby-Ironton, finished with 14 set assists, 12 digs and three kills against Pequot Lakes.
Noelle Kurowski, Little Falls, finished with 20 digs, 11 kills and four ace serves against Pierz.
Teresa Moenkedick, Verndale, finished with 17 kills and 12 digs against Staples-Motley.
Sarah Moenkedick, Verndale, finished with 23 set assists and 16 digs against Staples-Motley.
Caitlin Volkmann, Wadena-Deer Creek, finished with 24 digs, 14 kills and eight blocks against Dilworth-Glyndon-Felton.
Emily Miron, Wadena-Deer Creek, finished with 29 kills, 10 digs and seven blocks against Dilworth-Glyndon-Felton.