Elkhorn South setter Madi Woodin set the bar incredibly high for herself as a freshman.
As a sophomore, she’s ready to raise it even higher.
The 5-foot-5 Woodin led the state with 1,220 assists last season. That wasn’t far off the Class A record of 1,333, set by Bellevue West’s Ashley Petak in 2004.
“I was surprised by that total because I didn’t know what to expect as a freshman,” Woodin said. “All of our hitters are great and I know I can depend on all of them.”
The Storm, ranked second in Class A, have a wealth of hitters. They had five with at least 200 kills on last year’s Class B runner-up squad, and only two — Logan Connealy and Kenzie Saitta — have graduated.
Leading the way is 6-4 junior Rylee Gray, a Nebraska commit who pounded 345 kills last season. Also back are senior Ibi Green and sophomore Kylie Weeks, who combined for 566 more.
Combine that firepower with Woodin’s play and it’s little wonder that Elkhorn South is unbeaten.
“She senses things out there,” coach Chelsea Potter said. “She analyzes the defense and does a good job of distributing the ball.”
Woodin had a typically strong match in a recent four-set win over Omaha Marian. She had 62 assists while the big three — Gray, Green and Weeks — combined for 47 kills. Newcomer Brilee Wieseler, a transfer from Omaha Skutt, chipped in 11 kills.
“Madi has a calming effect on our team,” Potter said. “I think that’s very important to have that from your setter because she’s running the show out there.”
The coach added that Woodin has the ability to reset the offense when the opponent seems to have the advantage.
“She can take any ball and get us back in system,” Potter said. “She has a lot of options and she does a great job of spreading things around.”
It seems to come naturally to Woodin, who said she has been playing setter ever since she can remember.
“I started playing club in the fourth grade,” she said. “I’ve always played the same position and I like being the leader.”
Woodin, Weeks and libero Estella Zatechka give the Storm three sophomore starters who gained valuable experience as freshmen.
“Kylie plays all six rotations and is outrageously athletic,” Potter said. “And Estella covers a big portion of the court.”
Elkhorn South, competing in Class A for the first time this season, faces a tough schedule this week. It began with a five-set win at Bellevue West on Tuesday night in which Woodin dished out 53 assists.
The Storm (7-0) then travel to top-ranked Papillion-La Vista (9-0) on Thursday night. That match will be followed by an appearance Saturday in the Millard North Invitational, an event that features six ranked teams and national power St. James Academy from Lenexa, Kansas.
“The whole month of September is a grind for us,” Potter said. “But hopefully that will help us late in the season.”
Woodin said she looks forward to the challenge and hopes the rest of the year goes well for the Storm, who are seeking their first championship.
“Our team goal is to win state,” she said. “We know there’s a lot of great competition but it would be awesome to make that happen.”
Potter, a former assistant in her first season as head coach, agreed.
“Our team has a lot of potential and a lot of talented personnel,” she said. “I feel as though our ceiling is really high.”
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From left, Emily Bressman of Omaha Marian, Kalynn Meyer of Superior, Jaiden Centeno of Millard West, Lindsay Krause of Omaha Skutt, McKenna Ruch of Millard North and Marriah Buss of Lincoln Lutheran. Not pictured: Millard North’s Izzy Lukens.
From left: Johnson-Brock’s Fallon Stutheit, Omaha Marian's Lily Heim (honorary captain), Superior’s Kalynn Meyer, Omaha Skutt’s Lindsay Krause, Marian’s Emily Bressman and Papio South’s Taliyah Flores. Not pictured: Malcolm’s Jaela Zimmerman.
2016: Back row from left: Jaela Zimmerman, Malcolm; Taliyah Flores, Papillion-La Vista; Elise Baumann, Millard North; Fallon Stutheit, Johnson-Brock. Front row from left: Sarah Swanson, Elkhorn South; Alli Schomers, Omaha Skutt; Brooke Heyne, Omaha Skutt.
2015: From left: Olivia Nicholson, North Platte; Raegan LeGrand, Papillion-La Vista South; Allison Schomers, Omaha Skutt; Brittany Witt, Omaha Marian; Elizabeth Loschen, Omaha Marian; Hali McArdle, Gretna; Sarah Swanson, Elkhorn South.
2014: From left: Priscilla O'Dowd, Papillion-La Vista; Jessica Peters, Papillion-La Vista; Raegan LeGrand, Papillion-La Vista South; Megan Wickey, Omaha Concordia; Carley Remmers, Freeman; Tiani Reeves, Gothenburg; Brittany Witt, Omaha Marian.
2013: The All-Nebraska football and volleyball teams came together for a photo shoot, and the cover was designed to look like a Facebook page with the teams taking one big selfie.
2012: From left: Lexi Elman, Omaha Marian; Kelly Hunter, Papillion-La Vista South; Amber Rolfzen, Papillion-La Vista South; Sydney Townsend, Lincoln Pius X; Alyssa Frauendorfer, Humphrey; Michaela Mestl, Kearney Catholic; Kadie Rolfzen, Papillion-La Vista South.
2011: From left: Kelly Hunter, Papillion-La Vista South; Kadie Rolfzen, Papillion-La Vista South; Amber Rolfzen, Papillion-La Vista South; Lauren Sieckmann, Elkorn South; Katie Brand, Grand Island Central Catholic; Cassie Effken, Lincoln Pius X; Kate Elman, Omaha Marian.
2010: From left: Emily Wilson, Omaha Gross; Kadie Rolfzen, Papillion-La Vista South; Amber Rolfzen, Papillion-La Vista South; Sara McClinton, Millard North; Chelsea Albers, Papillion-La Vista; Kelly Hunter, Papillion-La Vista South; Lauren Sieckmann, Omaha Marian.
2009: Standing from left: Emily Wilson, Omaha Gross; Kadie Rolfzen, Papillion-La Vista South; Sarah Kemp, Bellevue East; Amber Rolfzen, Papillion-La Vista South; Tenisha Matlock, North Platte. Front row from left: Lauren Sieckmann, Omaha Marian; Julianne Mandolfo, Omaha Marian.
2008: From left: Natalie Braun, Lincoln Pius X; Chelsey Feekin, Papillion-La Vista; Hayley Thramer, Ewing; Jamie Straube, Johnson County; Gina Mancuso, Papillion-La Vista; Lauren Cook, Lincoln Pius X.
2007: From left: Tali Fredrickson, Grand Island Central Catholic; Caitlin Mahoney, Omaha Marian; Chelsey Feekin, Papillion-La Vista; Keelin Bourne, Millard North; Gina Mancuso, Papillion-La Vista; Lauren Cook, Lincoln Pius X.
2006: Top from left: Catie Wilson, Omaha Gross; Brooke Delano, Bellevue West; Lauren Cook, Lincoln Pius X. Bottom from left: Gabi Ailes, Bellevue West; Ann Armes, Grand Island; Gina Mancuso, Papillion-La Vista.
2005: From left: Katie Swenson, Omaha Gross; Angela Hlavaty, Lincoln Lutheran; Brooke Delano, Bellevue West; Gabi Ailes, Bellevue West; Brooke Bartek, Lincoln Northeast; Erica Burson, Omaha Gross.
2004: Front row from left: Amanda Gates, Columbus; Jordan Larson, Logan View; Alison Jacobs, Elkhorn; Rachel Schwartz, Lincoln East. Back row from left: Kyla Roehrig, Papillion-La Vista; Korie Lebeda, Omaha Marian.