Logan Redetzke was looking forward to her first season as the head coach of the Menahga volleyball team.

It turned out to be a memorable season for all the wrong reasons.

COVID-19 prevented Redetzke from coaching the first eight matches of the season as Lindsey White filled in as the Braves’ head coach. Redetzke returned to coach two matches when the Minnesota State High School League canceled the rest of the regular season, all of the section tournaments and the state tournament.

Even though it wasn’t an ideal beginning to her tenure as Menahga’s head coach, Redetzke said the abbreviated season was vital for her players.

“Having a season this year was crucial to my players’ mental health. Most were really stressed with school, so the fact that at the end of the day they could come and let loose and play a sport that they love was just a delight,” said Redetzke. “It just made part of this crazy year feel a little bit more normal.”

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Menahga compiled a 3-5 overall record playing Park Region Conference teams this fall.

After opening with a loss to Henning (25-14, 25-9, 25-10), the Braves rallied to defeat Bertha-Hewitt (23-25, 21-25, 25-20, 26-24, 15-11). A three-match losing streak followed as Menahga dropped decisions to New York Mills (25-19, 25-19, 25-18), Henning (25-8, 25-12, 25-8) and Pillager (25-16, 23-25, 22-25, 25-22, 15-13). After back-to-back wins over Verndale (25-22, 16-25, 25-19, 25-21) and Sebeka (25-22, 22-25, 9-25, 25-22, 16-14), the Braves lost to Wadena-Deer Creek (25-14, 25-19, 14-25, 25-13) in what proved to be the last match of the season.

Henning won the conference title and ended the season rated No. 6 in the state Class A poll with an 11-0 record.

“Watching most of the season online was tough, but I feel that the season went pretty well,” said Redetzke. “We were just happy to play. Winning and losing wasn't even on the brain. The last two games I got to actually be with them and coach and they looked great. Our skills were really coming together and they were really meshing well as a team.”

A total of 12 players saw action in at least two matches this season. That group was led by last year’s varsity players: Elly Hillukka, Maryn Pinoniemi, Allie Pfeifer, Julia Besonen, Lela Peterson and Janie Tormanen. Also playing key roles this fall were Michaela Skoog, Amanda Lake, Claire Pinoniemi, Jadeyn Dissmore, Samara Kicker and Erica Tormanen.

Of that group, only Maryn Pinoniemi and Pfeifer played in all eight matches. Besonen, Peterson and Skoog played in seven matches while Hillukka and Lake played in six matches. The Braves averaged 7.5 ace serves, 28.3 kills and 71.4 digs per match.

Maryn Pinoniemi led Menahga with 15 ace serves while contributing 105 digs, 42 kills and nine set assists. Pinoniemi also went 158 for 167 in serve receive.

Pfeifer led the way with 148 digs and was second with 61 set assists while tallying 16 kills and going 106 for 117 in serve receive.

Besonen had 67 digs, 14 kills, 13 set assists and six ace serves while going 77 for 85 in serve receive.

Peterson finished with 81 digs, 23 kills, nine set assists and six ace serves while going 108 for 115 in serve receive.

Lake led the Braves with 123 set assists while contributing 60 digs, 13 kills and eight ace serves.

Hillukka had 31 kills, 17 digs and 10 ace serves while Skoog chipped in 22 kills and 12 digs.

Despite playing in only four matches, Janie Tormanen led the Braves with 51 kills and 14 blocks. Tormanen also served five aces and had 31 digs.

Claire Pinoniemi had 10 digs and seven kills in four matches, Dissmore had 29 digs in three matches, Kicker had seven digs and seven kills in three matches, and Erica Tormanen had four digs in two matches.

Redetzke is looking forward to being the full-time head coach and a more normal season next fall.

“When it comes to expectations, I feel we should be an absolute unit. These girls have been playing together for a long time. Their personalities all mesh well. They are all best friends out there and they play absolutely amazing together,” said Redetzke. “I think next year is going to be even better. I feel we could be a very high level team next year. That's what gets me excited for a new school year to come around.”

Menahga statistics
Serving: M. Pinoniemi 89 for 106 (15 aces), Pfeifer 79 for 87 (3 aces), Peterson 67 for 77 (6 aces), Lake 68 for 76 (8 aces), Hillukka 48 for 59 (10 aces), Besonen 39 for 53 (6 aces), J. Tormanen 24 for 32 (5 aces), Skoog 26 for 30 (3 aces), Dissmore 15 for 18 (1 ace), Kicker 12 for 13 (1 ace), C. Pinoniemi 9 for 11 (1 ace), E. Tormanen 6 for 6 (1 ace), Butler 0 for 1.
Attacks: M. Pinoniemi 215 (42 kills), J. Tormanen 147 (51 kills), Peterson 139 (23 kills), Hillukka 121 (31 kills), Skoog 100 (22 kills), Lake 89 (13 kills), Besonen 82 (14 kills), Pfeifer 73 (16 kills), C. Pinoniemi 30 (7 kills), Kicker 16 (7 kills), E. Tormanen 10, Dismore 8.
Sets: Lake 521 (123 assists), Pfeifer 248 (61 assists), M. Pinoniemi 65 (9 assists), Besonen 61 (13 assists), Peterson 43 (9 assists), Hillukka 16, J. Tormanen 14 (2 assists), Skoog 14, Dissmore 11 (1 assist), E. Tormanen 8, C. Pinoniemi 4, Kicker 3 (1 assist).
Blocks (solo-assists): J. Tormanen 6-8, Pfeifer 1-5, M. Pinoniemi 1-3, Skoog 1-2, Hillukka 2-0, Kicker 0-2, E. Tormanen 0-2, C. Pinoniemi 1-0, Peterson 0-1, Lake 0-1.
Digs: Pfeifer 148, M. Pinoniemi 105, Peterson 81, Besonen 67, Lake 60, J. Tormanen 31, Dissmore 29, Hillukka 17, Skoog 12, C. Pinoniemi 10, Kicker 7, E. Tormanen 4.
Serve receive: M. Pinoniemi 158 for 167, Pfeifer 106 for 117, Peterson 108 for 115, Besonen 77 for 85, Hillukka 26 for 31, Dissmore 30 for 30, C. Pinoniemi 20 for 21, Skoog 18 for 21, E. Tormanen 11 for 13, J. Tormanen 9 for 9, Kicker 5 for 5, Lake 3 for 3.

Braves split finales

The Braves closed out the season by splitting a pair of Park Region Conference matches at Menahga.

Janie Tormanen’s 18 kills and 21 digs sparked the Braves in a 3-2 win over Sebeka on Nov. 19 while Wadena-Deer Creek ended Menahga’s season with a 3-1 victory on Nov. 20.

Maryn PInoniemi added 13 kills, Peterson had 24 digs and Pfeifer had 23 digs in the Braves’ 25-22, 22-25, 9-25, 25-22, 16-14 victory over Sebeka. Pfeifer also had 34 set assists, Peterson served two aces and Janie Tormanen had seven blocks. Pinoniemi (18), Dissmore (16) and Besonen (10) also had double digits in digs as the Braves overcame 34 hitting errors and 12 service errors with 45 kills, eight ace serves and 123 digs.

Maya Lake’s 25 digs and MacKenzie Nelson’s 20 digs and eight kills led Sebeka, which fell to 3-7 in conference matches and 4-7 overall.

Madison Carsten’s 27 kills and 22 digs powered W-DC to a 25-14, 25-19, 14-25, 25-13 victory in the season finale.

Addyson Gravelle added 38 set assists as the Wolverines ended the season with an 8-1 overall record.

Skoog’s 10 kills and two ace serves led Menahga. Kicker had seven kills while Pfeifer had 21 set assists and 17 digs. Besonen (13), Dissmore (13) and Peterson (11) tallied double digits in digs as the Braves closed out the season with a 3-5 record. Menahga had 27 kills with 21 hitting errors.

Henning won the conference title with a 9-0 mark while Wadena-Deer Creek followed at 7-1. New York Mills (3-2), Bertha-Hewitt (5-4), Verndale (4-6) and Pillager (1-0) rounded out the Park Region standings.

Menahga statistics vs. Sebeka
Serving: J. Tormanen 6 for 8 (1 ace), Peterson 16 for 18 (2 aces), Pinoniemi 8 for 11 (1 ace), E. Tormanen 6 for 6 (1 ace), Besonen 4 for 5, Skoog 9 for 9 (1 ace), Kicker 6 for 7, Pfeifer 17 for 19 (1 ace), Dissmore 12 for 13 (1 ace).
Attacks: J. Tormanen 58 (18 kills), Pinoniemi 46 (13 kills), Peterson 23 (5 kills), Pfeifer 23 (4 kills), Skoog 17 (4 kills), Besonen 12 (1 kill), E. Tormanen 10, Dissmore 2.
Sets: Pfeifer 130 (34 assists), Peterson 14 (1 assist), Besonen 8 (1 assist), Skoog 8, E. Tormanen 8, Pinoniemi 7 (2 assists), J. Tormanen 4 (1 assist), Dissmore 3 (1 assist), Kicker 3 (1 assist).
Digs: Peterson 24, Pfeifer 23, J. Tormanen 21, Pinoniemi 18, Dissmore 16, Besonen 10, Skoog 4, E. Tormanen 4, Kicker 3.
Blocks (solo-assists): J. Tormanen 1-6, Pfeifer 0-4, E. Tormanen 0-2.
Serve receive: Peterson 29 for 32, Besonen 12 for 13, Pinoniemi 11 for 13, Dissmore 10 for 10, J. Tormanen 9 for 9, E. Tormanen 9 for 9, Skoog 7 for 7, Kicker 5 for 5.
Menahga statistics vs. W-DC
Serving: Peterson 10 for 11 (1 ace), Pinoniemi 14 for 15 (1 ace), Besonen 7 for 8, Skoog 9 for 12 (2 aces), Kicker 3 for 3, Pfeifer 17 for 20 (1 ace), Dissmore 2 for 3).
Attacks: Skoog 34 (10 kills), Peterson 26 (2 kills), Pinoniemi 21 (3 kills), Kicker 16 (7 kills), Pfeifer 16 (4 kills), Besonen 11 (1 kill), Dissmore 5.
Sets: Pfeifer 92 (21 assists), Besonen 13 (2 assists), Peterson 8 (3 assists), Dissmore 8, Pinoniemi 6, Skoog 1.
Digs: Pfeifer 17, Besonen 13, Dissmore 13, Peterson 11, Skoog 7, Pinoniemi 6, Kicker 3.
Blocks (solo-assists): Pfeifer 1-0, Kicker 0-2, Skoog 0-1, Pinoniemi 0-1.
Serve receive: Peterson 36 for 36, Dissmore 18 for 18, Pinoniemi 17 for 18, Besonen 5 for 5, Skoog 3 for 5.