Almost every barley-breath, cheese-puff stained sports fan has dreams of being a pro team's general manager.
I know I'll never manage a pro team, but I still dream. Because my living comes in covering high school sports I dream on a smaller scale. I dream of the ultimate area high school teams.
Call me a realist or call me crazier than a Buffalo Bills fan painted red and blue in sub-arctic temperatures wearing nothing but a Speedo, but with open enrollment, one day my dream may come true.
For instance, let's create the ultimate area volleyball team. It's easy. We just have to start. What better place to start than the serve.
This team needs Jessica Gallaway from Pequot Lakes. She tied this fall with Jenae Swanson of Pierz for most ace serves in the area. She finished with 56 aces in fewer attempts than Swanson, giving Gallaway the nod.
"You look where the defense is setting up and look for the open stops," Gallaway said about serving. "At the beginning of the match you look for weaker players. Usually we have certain players that we try to aim for. By the end of the first game we know which ones are the weak ones."
When it comes to serving, Gallaway stressed high contact of the ball and placement of the serve. She said once her placement is on, the senior turns on the power.
Her most memorable ace serve won a game for Pequot.
"We were on the road and I had an ace that won the game for us," said Gallaway. "It was really cool. It was a really close game and I was just thankful we got out of there with a win."
Should Gallaway fail to secure an ace, then good defense is vital. This team needs a blocking specialist. This team needs Verndale's Sami Seaton.
Seaton tied for the area lead in blocks with 225 total. Seaton's 5-foot-10 frame makes her one of the best at blocking in the area.
"Our coach told us to look at the speed of the pass and the set, and how tall the spiker is," said Seaton. "That determines how high the ball is going to come over. For me, I have good hand-eye coordination so that helps. Then you just keep your hands open and big and block it."
Seaton has mastered the block to where she's directing the ball after she blocks it. Her most memorable block came against Sebeka and won the game for Verndale.
"It was game point for us and Kelsey (Corbin) went for a spike," Seaton said. "I jumped up and blocked it and it went straight down to the ground and we won the game."
If our opponent gets the ball past Seaton's block, we'll need an aggressive player to dig the spike. Brainerd's Haley Bower leads that department with 357 digs.
"I'm thinking of lineup off the block, getting my feet set and staying low," said Bower. "We practice digging at every practice. Our assistant coach (Carla) Stall is big on defense."
Bower said the attributes of a player who digs well are quickness, staying low to the ground and just having good instincts and ability to react to where the ball is going.
"In the game against Sauk Rapids when we were playing at their gym, they had a big hitter in (Krisen) Hille. She was their big hitter. I dug her up a lot and really slowed their team down and we beat them 3-0."
After Bower's dig this dynamic team needs a setter to prepare for the attack. Brainerd's Lauren Kirkpatrick led the area with 820 set assists.
"When I get the pass I'm thinking of who I'm going to set it to, who's ready and who I need to get the ball to to give us the best chance for a kill," said Kirkpatrick. "It depends on who's having a good night, who I know can put the ball down and make a good play for us, who is ready and calling for the ball."
With 820 set assists it's hard to pick a favorite, but what Kirkpatrick likes is a powerful spike with a loud bounce off the floor afterward. That's where Staples-Motley's Michelle Honek comes in.
The senior Cardinal led the area with 442 kills, nearly doubling the second highest total.
"The first thing I think about is where are the blockers, to the right of me or to the left," said Honek. "My biggest thing is I have to see the blockers."
Jumping ability, reading blockers, communication with the setter and placement are all important parts of the spike or kill. Another is wrist snap, which Honek showed off against Browerville this year.
"I just remember hitting it and all I could hear was everyone screaming," said Honek. "I hit a girl. I don't want to hit people. It's not my goal to hit people and make them fall down. I just remember that because everyone in the crowd just went nuts."
There is the ultimate area volleyball team. We'll keep it at five to give everyone else a chance, but it would be easy to throw in Brainerd's Megan Arns or Brianna Wynn and Jenna Kovatovich of Crosby-Ironton. Maybe Laura Harms of Little Falls, who signed a Division I scholarship, would fit.
See how exciting a fantasy high school general manager could be?
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