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Behind Abby Wachal, Lincoln Lutheran volleyball once again among Class C-1’s best
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PREP VOLLEYBALL

Behind Abby Wachal, Lincoln Lutheran volleyball once again among Class C-1’s best

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Subdistrict volleyball 10.26

Lincoln Lutheran outside hitter Abby Wachal celebrates a kill against Lincoln Christian on Oct. 26, 2020.

It’s time to announce the winners of the 2021 Prep Sports Awards. These high school athletes have had amazing seasons this year and we are proud to celebrate their achievements.

Among all of the schools hoping to make a state tournament run in Class C-1 volleyball this season, there’s probably an overarching feeling.

Lincoln Lutheran just won’t go away.

Under head coach Sue Ziegler, the Warriors went through a tremendous eight-year stretch from 1998-2005. Lincoln Lutheran made the state tournament five times over that period, including a state title in 2004 and a runner-up finish in 2005.

Ziegler left her post for seven seasons, returned in 2013 and now eight years later, the Warriors are in the midst of another strong run. Lincoln Lutheran has won 30 or more matches and finished in the top four at the state tournament in each of the last four seasons, including a state title in 2019.

“I think that’ll just continue to push us forward; knowing that we have had a good past we want to continue that and hopefully get back to it,” said senior Raegan Holle, a key team leader and captain at libero.

When Marriah Buss, who has the second-most kills in state history, graduated after the 2019 season, the Warriors might have naturally experienced a drop-off. However, a new dominant outside hitter was ready to step up: Abby Wachal.

Wachal had a big jump in production from her freshman to sophomore season. Her kills per set leaped from two to four, her hitting percentage soared and she also became a well-rounded player who can serve effectively and block at the net.

At the end of the season, Wachal had totaled 400 kills, good for a top-20 mark in the state and all-state first team honors. The junior is seeing plenty of recruiting interest, and she’s now very comfortable in her role as the team’s go-to outside hitter.

“I just feel that I can do the best I can hitting, and I just want to be a role model out there for all the other hitters,” Wachal said. “They know they can be confident when I’m confident, and I just want to lead them in that way with confidence, because I feel like when we have that no one can really beat us.”

The Warriors return all but three players from last year’s squad, with Abi Wohlgemuth being the biggest loss at middle blocker. However, the 6-foot-3 Katelynn Oxley is ready to take over in the middle after finishing with 88 blocks last season. Holle, who broke the school record in digs last year, returns as a starter, as does senior setter Ashlyn Deboer.

Wachal, Holle, Oxley, Shanae Bergt, Erika Young and Molli Martin were all members of Lincoln Lutheran’s girls basketball team that made the state tournament in the winter, and that experience has given them even more confidence in their athletic abilities.

“Going into the season, no one really thought that we’d make it,” Wachal said. “But, just believing that you can and putting in the hard work, we made it really far and I’m really proud of what we did as a team.”

Every returning member of the Lutheran team will have last year’s semifinal loss seared into their memories. The Warriors fought hard to win the first two sets against St. Paul, but lost the next three for a heart-breaking 3-2 loss. The ensuing defeat in the third-place game should only serve to strengthen their resolve for a better finish in 2021, something every Warrior believes to be possible.

“I think that the girls were maybe a little disappointed with fourth place, and they’re coming back strong this year,” Ziegler said.

“It was exciting to see how close we were last year, so I think it’s just that motivation and drive (we need) to get back there and get that championship,” added Holle.

Reach the writer at 402-473-7437 or at LMullin@journalstar.com. On Twitter @lmullin7

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