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Tigers have tough act to follow with graduation of eight players

     The Nevis volleyball team has a tough act to follow.

     Last year’s senior group of Megan Norby, Olivia Toft and Savannah Gatewood competed in the last three state Class A tournaments in which the Tigers finished as the state runner-up in 2011 and the state consolation champions in 2012 and 2013. Taylor Drury and Melissa Stenberg played in two state tournaments apiece while Angel Wolf, Diana Schuldt and Alana Swanda also graduated.

     Nevis went undefeated in Northland Conference play for the seventh year in a row and finished with a 24-10-2 overall record. The Tigers, who went 75-29-4 the last three seasons, have plenty of experience and talent to replace.

     Norby was a four-year starter at middle hitter and Toft was the starting setter the last four seasons. Gatewood served as a defensive specialist the last three years while Drury and Stenberg provided depth at hitter.

     Norby (a three-time all-tournament player who will be playing at the University of Minnesota-Duluth this fall) had 343 kills, 71 ace serves, 218 service points, 31 blocks and 284 digs last season. Norby compiled 1,392 kills and 1,118 digs during her four-year varsity career at Nevis.

     Toft tallied 685 set assists, 194 service points, 41 aces, 33 kills and 160 digs last year. Toft compiled 3,238 set assists during her four-year varsity career.

     Drury had 112 kills, 49 service aces, 250 service points, 49 blocks and 118 digs. Gatewood had 56 service points and 198 digs. Stenberg had 96 kills and 36 digs. Wolf had a 110 digs.

     Being counted on to lead the Tigers to another successful season are the six returning varsity players: seniors Denia Brown and Ruby Vedbraaten; juniors Hannah Bliss, Allison Booker and Jordyn Lucas; and sophomore Hannah Anderson.

     Brown played on the last three teams that qualified for state and led the Tigers with 89 blocks while finishing second on the team in kills last season with 205. Brown also had 25 ace serves and 108 service points with 45 digs and returns as a starter at middle hitter.

     Bliss returns at outside hitter and will help out at setter after playing key roles on the last two state teams. Bliss tallied 102 kills, 20 ace serves, 120 service points, 47 blocks, 44 digs and 52 set assists a year ago.

     Vedbraaten also played on the last two state teams as a libero. Vedbraaten had 16 ace serves, 83 service points and 141 digs last season.

     Booker had six kills and 38 service points last season as a reserve hitter while Lucas (defensive specialist) and Anderson (setter) saw limited varsity time.               

     Rounding out this year’s varsity roster are seniors Lindsey Bennett (outside hitter) and McKenzie Harris (outside hitter) and sophomores Vana Byer (libero) and Cielo Mooney (outside hitter).

     “With graduating eight seniors and only returning six players from the varsity roster last season, we have a lot of roles to fill. However, all of the girls filling those roles this season are very good volleyball players,” said Nevis head coach Heidi Wormley, who will be assisted by Stacy Feder, Savannah Stenberg and Karly Drury. “With our success over the history of our program, the expectations are always pretty high. We will once again be contenders for both our conference and section titles, but we will always approach it one game at a time. The most important thing is that the girls come together as a team, have fun and learn some valuable lessons for life.”