Normans, Blair captain All-Area team

Blue Earth Area volleyball trio net accolades

For the past four years, Alissa Norman has been a consistent setter for the Blue Earth Area Bucs volleyball team.

From her first match as a freshman to her last on Oct. 31, she earned her place in the Bucs’ volleyball record books with 2,121 set assists. In her senior season, she totaled 618 assists for an average of 7.2 per game.

Alissa Norman, who also was last year’s the Sentinel All-Area co-player of the year, contributed 24 ace serves and 44 kills.

The four-time all-Big South Conference first-teamer provided 130 digs and 26 blocks to the team’s defensive effort.

“Over the years, Alissa has matured into a great leader on our court. Her game awareness, quickness, and defense has always been a benefit to her team,” said Bucs head coach Donna Nawrocki. “She has always been team oriented, and wanting to help each of her teammates have success on the court by giving them her best.

“It has been a privilege to coach her, and she will be missed.”

Working alongside her on the court were her twin sister, middle hitter Lindsey Norman, and outside hitter Sofie Blair.

In her final season for Blue Earth Area, Blair earned a spot on the all-conference team, racking up 159 kills and 40 ace serves.

Blair capped her prep career with a Bucs-best 227 digs to complement 22 ace blocks as one of the team’s go-to players this season.

“Sofie is a hard-working player, and has the knowledge and versatility to play every position if needed. She is a true team player, who has always accepted her given role each year for team success, which in itself speaks volumes of her character,” Nawrocki said.

Meanwhile, Lindsey Norman led the Bucs in three categories with 217 kills, 94 ace blocks and 42 serving aces.

The two-time all-conference choice and last year’s area co-player of the year added 226 digs to close out her outstanding high school volleyball career.

“Lindsey’s competitive drive, along with her athletic ability, has always been a positive for our team. As a middle hitter offensively, her strength has been her ability to run numerous hitting patterns along the net and read the opposing defense,” Nawrocki said.

Blair, Alissa Norman and Lindsey Norman helped the Bucs to win the East Division of the Big South Conference before falling to St. Peter in the Section 2AA, South Sub-Section semifinals for a 17-14 overall record.

“(All) of these girls, and their teammates understand what it means to work as a team and support each other. It has been an honor to not only coach these girls, but all of their teammates as well,” Nawrocki said.

For their efforts in their final season for the Bucs, Sofie Blair, Alissa Norman and Lindsey Norman are the 2017 Sentinel All-Area volleyball players of the year.

Here’s a look at the rest of the 2017 All-Area team:

Bre Anderson (North Union) — Skilled server. In her senior season, the Top of Iowa Conference second-team selection sent down 122 kills for an average of 1.47 per game, with 20 aces on 291-for-291 serving.

She added 191 digs and 10 blocks on the season as the Warriors posted a 13-18 record.

Kate Anderson (North Union) — Helping hand. The Warrior setter doled out 585 assists, averaging 7.22 set assists per game, to complement 70 kills.

The two-time All-Area choice and Top of Iowa Conference first-team honoree added 31 ace serves, 104 digs and 27 toal blocks in her senior season.

Emma Becker (Martin Luther/ Granada-Huntley-East Chain/Truman) — Silent hitter. The all-Valley Conference honorable mention nominee led the Jaguars in kills with 147 for an average of 1.69 per game and 54 total blocks.

Becker produced 16 aces on 150 serves in addition to 173 digs on the year.

Renae Eckmann (Martin County West) — Frontline power. The senior totaled 140 kills and 34 solo blocks to earn a spot on the Valley Conference honorable mention team.

The first-time All-Area pick went 165-for-182 serving with 10 aces, in addition to 61 digs on the year, helping the Mavericks to a season record of 13-12.

Ericka Kim (Fairmont) — Defender of the court. The Cardinals’ senior libero thrived in the back row, contributing 166 digs to the team’s defensive effort.

The all-Big South Conference honorable mention and all-state academic team member recorded 19 aces, distributed eight set assists and notched five kills in her final prep season as the team recorded its winningest season (12-13) since 2012.

Madison Klima (Martin County West) — Dive ‘n’ dig. The junior libero eclipsed the 1,000 dig career mark to accumulate 365 digs this year.

She completed 138 of 154 serves with 10 aces en route to a spot on the all-Valley Conference second team.

Marissa Steinhaus (Martin Luther/ Granada-Huntley-East Chain/Truman) — Court commander. The two-time All-Area choice surpassed 1,000 career digs with 297 on the year for 1,164 for her prep career.

The all-Valley Conference second-team member tallied 126 kills, 35 assists, 15 blocks and 49 service aces, making her the program’s all-time leader with 138.

Bailee Swanson (Fairmont) — Hard-hitting hustler. The junior led the Cardinals in kills with 195, while also contributing 23 blocks and a team-high 36 serving aces.

The all-Big South Conference first-team honoree and two-time All-Area selection provided the team’s defense with 139 digs on the year.

Maia Taylor (Martin County West) — All-around effort. The repeat All-Area setter provided the Mavericks with 383 set assists.

The all-Valley Conference first-team pick recorded 137 digs with 97 kills, 13 solo blocks and 27 serving aces for an accuracy rate of 95 percent.

Courtney Williams (Fairmont) — Length up front. The repeat All-Area pick used her height to post a Cardinals-best 80 blocks while smacking 150 kills.

Williams totaled 19 digs and 14 ace serves, earning a spot on the Big South Conference first team for a second year to close out her last volleyball campaign.