Whether it's softball or volleyball Paige Olson likes to make contact.
The Brainerd High School junior hit .319 in her first season as a full-time varsity regular last spring. She also demonstrated arm strength rivaled by few opponents.
Put Olson on a volleyball court and her right arm is also a dangerous weapon. Through 15 matches the 5-foot-10 Olson is the Warriors' leading attacker with 152 kills.
"Paige hits the kind of ball that's hard to return," Warriors coach Lori Dean said. "That's what you look for in a player."
Olson said hard work and natural ability help her to attack. She was on the C team in seventh grade while her friends made the A team. She wanted to be with her friends so she worked hard in the eighth grade and made the A team.
"The coaches have helped me so much," Olson said. "The strongest part of my game definitely is hitting. I'm a much better hitter than digger. The coaches have worked hard with me to move my hips and rotating."
Attacking is not the only area where Olson contributes. She leads the team in ace serves (25) and blocks (40) and is second in digs (106).
Position: Middle hitter
Other sports: Basketball, softball
Grade-point average: 4.0
Favorite subject: Science
Favorite food: Watermelon
Favorite movie: "The Patriot"
Future plans: Attend college
Athlete she admires: Former teammate Megan Arns
Parents: Ty and Lisa Olson
"I'm a deep server," Olson said. "I've never served short. I just hit the ball as hard as I can, put as much top spin on it as I can. I've been pretty good at placing serves as well."
Dean said Olson is a versatile standout. She's solid when playing in the back row. She's also serving strings of serves.
"One of the things I like about Paige is she's energized," Dean said. "She gets excited over her teammates' good play, and that's what we need, that spark.
"She's excited about the good things we're doing. That's been huge and fun to see out of her, that she could be so excited."
Dean said Olson's value includes being one of the team's fastest players and highest jumpers.
"Paige really is an incredible athlete," Dean said. "She beats girls to the ball. You will think to yourself, 'Why doesn't that other girl get it? How can Paige beat them when she's not that close?'
"The desire and determination she has, and the athleticism she has, is a powerful combination."
The season hasn't unfolded without frustration. Brainerd is 5-12 overall entering Thursday's home match against Bemidji.
"We haven't been very successful, wins and losses," Olson said, "but we're a tight team. Individually, we're all real close as friends.
"My role is to stay positive. That's been real tough with how we've been playing but we're trying hard, and our scores are not showing it. We love the game. When they get down they need someone to pump them up. I'm trying my hardest to stay positive through everything and keep everyone positive so they play well too."
Other notable efforts:
Robyn Wernberg, Brianna Elg and Jessica Reese, swimming, each won two events and were each on two winning relays against Alexandria.
Geoff Roberts, football, rushed for 169 yards and a touchdown against Tech.
Mike Bialka can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 855-5861.
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