Brigetta Berg made the most of her opportunities.
For the senior outside hitter of the Section 8-2A champion Wadena-Deer Creek Wolverines there weren't many.
W-DC finished the season 26-8 on its way to the Class 2A state volleyball tournament. Of those 26 wins, 20 were 3-0 or 2-0 sweeps. W-DC played in just two matches that went five games, both against Perham.
Still, Berg managed to lead the area with 574 kills and 611 digs. She was second in blocks with 159 and 10th in ace serves with 42.
"Most teams would place a double block and cheat to where she was set up," said W-DC head coach Sue Volkmann. "We had other hitters who had good years and so just concentrating on Brigetta allowed our other hitters open shots and made the block play more honest.
Wadena-Deer Creek senior outside hitter Brigetta Berg celebrated during the Wolverines' 3-0 Mid-State Conference volleyball victory over Pequot Lakes Oct. 7. Berg is the 2008 Brainerd Dispatch All-Area Volleyball Player of the Year.
Brainerd Dispatch/Kelly Humphrey
"Brigetta and Courtney (Volkmann), our setter, ran a lot of quick hits and teams had a tough time catching up with her quickness. Brigetta finished the year with 574 kills, so not many teams were very successful in stopping her."
Because of that Berg is the 2008 Brainerd Dispatch Volleyball Player of the Year. She joins Pierz's Katie Kimman (2007), Crosby-Ironton's Annie Adams (2006) and Pine River-Backus' Erin Cusac (2004, 2005) on the list of recent winners.
Berg helped the Wolverines win the Mid-State Conference with a 5-0 record, the Pierz tournament Sept. 27 and the Section 8-2A title after a thrilling 3-2 come-from-behind victory over Perham in the subsection final Oct. 28.
Leader of the pack
School: Wadena-Deer Creek
Position: Outside hitter
Season statistics: 574 kills, 611 digs, 159 blocks, 42 ace serves, 88-percent serving percentage.
ALL-AREA TEAM | A lot of new faces on this year's list. 3B
"We had a deer in the headlights look," Berg said of the Perham game. "We needed to slow it down and work our way back. In that third game we came out with a lot of determination and came back. We knew we could do it. We believed we could. We struggled there for a while, but we got over it and showed everyone what we were made of."
That victory helped the 10th-ranked Wolverines advance to their first state tournament since the 1991-92 seasons.
In W-DC's 3-0 loss to Hibbing in the state quarterfinals, Berg tallied 11 kills, two set assists, one ace serve, six digs and one block assist.
Against Delano in the consolation semifinal, Berg registered 18 kills, 10 digs and one block.
"I think it was awesome," Berg said of the state tournament. "We didn't play to our full potential, but it was sweet that we made it down there. Our whole town was behind us and it showed that if you really want to do something you can. I think this was just a first. I think this team can make it back next year and the year after."
As a junior she led the area with 452 kills, was second with 475 digs and fourth with 93 blocks to go with 27 ace serves.
Her sophomore season she was fourth in the area with 279 kills and fifth with 175 blocks.
Her 1,305 career kills rank her as one of the best ever to play for W-DC.
"I would have to say with her quickness, jumping ability and athletic ability she has to be at the top," Volkmann said. "Rhonda (Birch) and Brigetta were two completely different hitters. Brigetta has the luxury of having an outstanding setter and Rhonda didn't have that.
"With the better volleyball teams the game is played at a much higher level today and for hitters to be successful all the other parts of the game, from passing to setting and the kill, need to be working together at a high level. Our defense worked extremely hard to set up the opportunities for Brigetta."
Berg said teamwork and teammates is what she will miss the most next season. She was amazed at how quickly her younger teammates grasped the varsity game and said their development was the key to W-DC's success.
"Brigetta has a great attitude," said Volkmann. "She understood that the team comes first and any success she had was because of her teammates. With a young team she could have gotten frustrated with them at times, but she was always encouraging them on and they could look for her for positive leadership to get over the hump and play even better."
Said Berg: "I was very happy with how everything turned out. It was a new team with new players, but we all got along really well. We worked hard at playing volleyball, which we all love to do, and that made it a fun season."
JEREMY MILLSOP may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 855-5856.
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