Prep Volleyball

The 2018 Gazette all-area volleyball team

Top honors go to Megan Renner (Linn-Mar), Austin Filer (Xavier)

Linn-Mar's Megan Renner (6) bumps the ball in the first set during their Class 5A semifinal against Cedar Falls at the state volleyball tournament Nov. 8 at the U.S. Cellular Center. Renner is the Gazette-area volleyball player of the year. (Rebecca F. Miller/The Gazette)
Linn-Mar's Megan Renner (6) bumps the ball in the first set during their Class 5A semifinal against Cedar Falls at the state volleyball tournament Nov. 8 at the U.S. Cellular Center. Renner is the Gazette-area volleyball player of the year. (Rebecca F. Miller/The Gazette)
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Sure, Megan Renner will remember the volleyball accomplishments of her senior season at Linn-Mar High School.

Another trip to the state tournament. More individual honors and accolades.

She’ll recall, with even more fondness, what didn’t happen.


“No drama,” she said. “Our team chemistry was unbelievable from the first practice in August until our final loss.”

An Elite-team all-stater and a Purdue University signee, Renner piloted the Lions to a 32-10 record and a spot in the Class 5A state semifinals.

Today, for the second consecutive year, The Gazette honors the 6-foot-2 setter/outside hitter as its area player of the year.

“Obviously, she’s a kid with a lot of skill,” Linn-Mar Coach Teresa Bair said. “She loves the game, and she loves the competition.

“Her leadership is really positive, intense in a good way. She’s very supportive of her teammates. She’s always striving for improvement, both in herself and in her team.”

This is the second year The Gazette has compiled an all-area volleyball team, and Renner is one of five players to earn slots on the team both years, joining Maddy Baxter and Kaylee Donner of Cedar Rapids Jefferson, Sommer Daniel of Tipton and Madison Larson of Independence.

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The remainder of the 12-player consists of Cedar Rapids Xavier’s Akeela Jefferson and Eve Magill, Linn-Mar’s Anna Gorsich, West Delaware’s Macey Kleitsch, Mount Vernon’s Rory Light, Belle Plaine’s Kenzie Mantz and Dyersville Beckman’s Sydney Steffen.

Third-year Xavier coach Austin Filer is the area coach of the year after leading the Saints to a 4A state runner-up finish.

“We’ve set the bar high here now,” said Filer, 33, who owns a mark of 93-29 at Xavier with three straight state appearances; Xavier was a semifinalist in 2016 and 2017 before taking one more step this time around.

 

“I owe Austin and the staff a lot for my success,” Jefferson said upon her commitment to South Dakota State shortly after the state tournament. “They care for us as players individually. I really don’t think I would be where I am without them.”

Filer was an assistant coach at Mount Mercy University and active in the club scene before taking the Xavier job. He has elevated the program to previously unseen levels.

“I really had no idea what to expect on the high-school scene,” he said. “But I’m proud of what we’ve done, and I’m really excited about our future.”

Primarily a setter last year, Renner split time as a setter and hitter this season. She averaged 2.32 kills, 5.44 assists and 2.53 digs per set, posting a .272 kill efficiency.

“My offense has improved, but what I’ve really seen is a difference in my defense from a blocking and digging perspective,” she said. “I’ve taken some time off since the season ended, but I’m going to be a gym rat and get ready so I can compete at the Big Ten level.”

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Eleven of the 12 players on the team made it to state. Renner and Donner were members of the eight-player Elite all-state squad. Daniel was the 3A player of the year after leading Tipton to a runner-up finish.

2018 Gazette All-Area Volleyball Team

Maddy Baxter, 5-8, sr., S, Cedar Rapids Jefferson — Averaged 9.64 assists, 2.57 digs and 0.70 aces per set as the J-Hawks (37-7) advanced to the Class 5A state tournament for the second straight year. IGCA 5A first-team all-state. Will play at Drake University next year.

Sommer Daniel, 5-9, jr., OH/S Tipton — Averaged 4.25 kills, 4.46 assists and 3.03 digs per set as the Tigers (39-4) advanced to the Class 3A state final. Posted a .309 kill efficiency. IGCA 3A first-team all-state (3A player of the year). Verbal commit to the University of Utah.

Kaylee Donner, 5-6, sr., L, Cedar Rapids Jefferson — Averaged 4.18 digs per set as the J-Hawks (37-7) advanced to the Class 5A state tournament for the second straight year. IGCA Elite all-state and 5A first team. Will play at the University of Northern Iowa next year.

Anna Gorsich, 5-11, sr., MH, Linn-Mar — Averaged 2.19 kills and 0.83 blocks per set as the Lions (32-10) advanced to the Class 5A state semifinals for the second straight year. Posted a .338 kill efficiency. IGCA 5A honorable-mention all-state. Will play at Kirkwood Community College next year.

Akeela Jefferson, 5-11, sr., OH, Cedar Rapids Xavier — Averaged 3.67 kills and 2.00 digs per set with a .256 kill efficiency as the Saints (29-9) advanced to the Class 4A finals. IGCA 4A first-team all-state. Will play at South Dakota State University next year.

Macey Kleitsch, 5-11, jr., S, West Delaware — Averaged 1.61 kills, 8.67 assists and 2.86 digs per set as the Hawks (33-11) advanced to the Class 4A state tournament. Posted a .292 kill efficiency and served 94.6 percent. IGCA 4A first-team all-state.

Madison Larson, 6-1, sr., OH, Independence — Averaged 4.45 kills per set as the Mustangs (34-7) advance to the Class 4A state tournament. Posted a .396 kill efficiency. IGCA 4A first-team all-state. Will play at Winona State University next year.

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Rory Light, 6-0, sr., MH, Mount Vernon — Averaged 2.80 kills and 1.08 blocks per set as the Mustangs (28-16) advanced to the Class 3A state semfinals. Posted a .388 kill efficiency. IGCA 3A first-team all-state.

Eve Magill, 6-5, soph., OH, Cedar Rapids Xavier — Averaged 4.10 kills per set with a .288 kill efficiency as the Saints (29-9) advanced to the Class 4A finals. IGCA 4A second-team all-state. Verbal commit to Creighton University.

Kenzie Mantz, 6-2, sr., MH, Belle Plaine — The Class 2A leader in kills at 5.06 per set as the Plainsmen went 23-6. IGCA 2A second-team all-state. Will play at Iowa State University next year.

Megan Renner, 6-2, sr., OH/S, Linn-Mar — Led the Lions in kills per set (2.32) and assists per set (5.44) as the Lions (32-10) advanced to the Class 5A state semifinals for the second straight year. Added 2.53 digs per set and posted a .272 kill efficiency. IGCA Elite all-state and 5A first team. Will play at Purdue University next year.

Sydney Steffen, 5-6, sr., S, Dyersville Beckman — Averaged 9.99 assists and 1.55 digs per set as the Blazers (44-4) advanced to the Class 2A state semifinals. Served 97.4 percent. IGCA 2A first-team all-state.

Player of the Year — Megan Renner, Linn-Mar

Coach of the Year — Austin Filer, Cedar Rapids Xavier

l Comments: (319) 368-8857; jeff.linder@thegazette.com

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