Elkhorn South setter Madi Woodin

Madi Woodin, left, led the state in assists as a freshman. “Madi has a calming effect on our team,” Elkhorn South coach Chelsea Potter said.

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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Mike covers high school sports, primarily volleyball in the fall, girls basketball in the winter and baseball in the spring and summer. He also reports on horse racing for The World-Herald. Follow him on Twitter @MPattersonOWH. Phone: 402-444-1350.

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