Albrecht remains a first-teamer; Nicks, Rau and Schafer earn GNC awards
BY MATT FREY
Medford senior Kamry Albrecht kept her spot on the All-Great Northern Conference volleyball team after another strong season and she was joined by senior teammates Alex Nicks, Brynn Rau and Emily Schafer in earning awards during the Oct. 23 voting for the 2019 squad.
Albrecht was one of five unanimous selections to the seven-player first team. It’s her second All-GNC first-team award. She also gained honorable mention.
Nicks landed on the seven-member second team, while Rau and Schafer got honorable mention. It’s the first All-GNC volleyball award for all three.
The awards follow a season of ups and downs for the Raiders under thirdyear head coach Cheryl Schreiner. They started strong and ended strong in GNC play to finish 7-5, good for a third-place tie with Antigo. Medford ended up 20-15 overall after getting swept by GNC rival Tomahawk on Oct. 22 in the first round of the WIAA Division 2 tournament.
Albrecht was Medford’s primary middle hitter, but she evolved into more of an all-around presence in the rotation this year. For the second straight season, she led the conference in solo blocks with 76 in 49 sets player for a 1.6 block per set average. No one else was within a halfblock of that figure.
Offensively, Albrecht ranked fourth in the GNC by averaging three kills per set. She put down 145 kills in her 49 sets played. Albrecht was sixth in the league in hitting percentage at .224 with just 50 errors in 424 total attacks and she had 25 service aces in 177 serves. She had just 14 service errors in league play to finish with a .921 serving percentage.
Albrecht had 19 kills and three solo blocks in a 3-1 win over Tomahawk Oct. 12 and 19 kills and four solo blocks in a 3-2 loss at Antigo on Oct. 3. She had a big night in Medford’s conference finale at Northland Pines on Oct. 15 with 12 solo blocks, 10 attack kills and 26 digs in a match Medford won 3-1.
Much of that damage was done against Jacqueline Smith. The Eagles’ hard-hitting senior middle was named the Great Northern Conference’s Player of the Year for the second straight season. She led the league by averaging 6.4 kills per set, more than three ahead of the second-ranked hitter, Clare Aulik of Antigo. Smith’s attack percentage of .423 was more than 50 percentage points higher than second-ranked Meghan Scholz, a freshman middle from Tomahawk who received honorable mention.
Senior Paige Wicklund and junior Brooklyn Montgomery of league champion Mosinee and Tomahawk senior joined Albrecht and Smith as unanimous picks for the All-GNC team. Aulik and Antigo libero Emma Jaje rounded out the squad. Wickland and Jaje are repeat first-teamers.
Nicks stepped into a much bigger role with Medford’s varsity in her senior year, handling the majority of the setting. She ranked third in the GNC by averaging 5.2 assists per set with her 256 assists in 49 sets played and she ranked second with a fine .974 serving percentage. She had just six errors in 231 serves and had 15 aces. The only player with a higher percentage was Tomahawk’s Bryann Beaumier, who was 86 for 87 (.989).
Kamry Albrecht First Team
Alex Nicks Second Team
Brynn Rau Hon. Mention
Emily Schafer Hon. Mention Defensively, Nicks ranked second in the conference at 4.8 digs per set, just ahead of teammate Sierra Hanson (4.7). Nicks also provided some offense and blocking when needed. She had 44 kills in conference play, seven solo blocks and 17 block assists.
Nicks had 42 assists in the Oct. 3 loss at Antigo, 28 assists in the Oct. 12 win over Tomahawk, 27 assists at Pines and 26 assists in both a Sept. 21 3-2 loss to Antigo and a 3-2 loss to Tomahawk on Sept. 24. She had eight kills in a 3-2 loss to Mosinee on Sept. 21.
Rau also found herself in a much larger varsity role in 2019. As an outside hitter, she had 91 kills in conference play for a 1.9 kill-per-set average. She also led the GNC with 257 digs, an average of 5.2 per set. Rau had 14 aces in league play. Among her biggest matches this fall included 10 kills, two assists, 25 digs and an ace at Northland Pines; 11 kills, three aces and 22 digs at Antigo on Oct. 3; 11 kills, two aces, two assists and 27 digs in a 3-2 loss to Antigo Sept. 21 and an incredible 49 digs with seven kills in the Sept. 24 loss to Tomahawk.
Schafer made a speedy recovery from knee surgery in April and returned to Medford’s back row just in time for the Sept. 5 GNC opener at home against Northland Pines, where she had 16 digs to help the Raiders earn a big 3-2 win. She ranked seventh in the GNC with 3.5 digs per set, totaling 149 for the league season. She had a .957 serving percentage in conference play with just four errors in 93 serves and three aces. She added nine assists in five kills. She had 26 digs in a 3-1 home loss to Mosinee on Oct. 8 and 22 digs in the 3-2 loss to Tomahawk.
Other Raiders to make the list of GNC statistical leaders included Hanson, who was fourth in serving percentage at .943 (99 for 105), and Rynn Ruesch, who averaged 0.9 blocks per set (43 in 49 sets played) to rank fifth and had a hitting percentage of .195 to rank eighth.
Mosinee (30-6) swept to a 12-0 conference record to clinch its third straight league title. The top-seeded Indians host third-seeded Northland Pines tonight, Thursday, in a WIAA Division 2 sectional semifinal. They are the last two GNC teams standing in tournament play. Mosinee is the defending sectional champion. Julie Smith of Pines was named GNC Coach of the Year after leading the Eagles to second place and an 8-4 league record, their best-ever GNC mark.