Gering-influenced West sweeps all-star volleyball match
     2012-06-07      By Terry Gaston   
SCOTTSBLUFF – Team Gering’s influence was more than evident in the West All-Stars’ five-game sweep Saturday in the 28th annual West Nebraska All-Star Volleyball Match at Western Nebraska Community College’s Cougar Palace.

Gering coach and West head coach Craig Schadwinkel said he was blessed to not only have graduated Bulldog teammates Morgan Greene and his youngest daughter, Kayleigh, on his West squad but to have a wealth of western Nebraska talent that extended from Hay Springs to Perkins County.

And the way the 12 talented teammates for a week jelled under the tutelage of Schadwinkel and assistant coach Lacey Wurdeman of Sioux County was executed with a dominant performance. The West swept all five games by scores of 25-21, 25-16, 25-21, 26-24 and 15-11.

“I was really blessed the committee really gave me the kids that they did,” said Schadwinkel, who was an assistant on the 1986 Nebraska squad under a Nebraska-Wyoming format. “They came in and best well, and all I did was sit here and have fun with them.”

On the contrary, Schadwinkel was coaching as hard as he does every fall in the Gering High School gymnasium. Even with the match clinched, Schadwinkel was still working the West players as hard as he was from the first serve.

Schadwinkel said an exercise Friday, in which the West players took on the coaches in a big-ball competition, helped formulate the competitive spirit of the team and led to the eventual 5-0 game victory, which the West had also done in 2003 and 2007. The West now leads the series, 17-11.

“We did a lot of competitive things like that in practice,” Schadwinkel said. “We did a really fun drill Friday afternoon, where the players had to win three straight sets. If the coaches won a set, we had to start over.

“We had to pick an assemblance of lineups, and it was so tough for Coach (Wurdeman) and I to do that because we had so much talent. With that drill, Coach and I saw how competitive they were.”

In only one game, the fourth, was the East ahead by as many as five points, 16-11, before kills by Mitchell’s Andee Grentz, Perkins County’s Tanya Metcalf, Hay Springs’ Kelsy Kudrna and Ogallala’s Savannah Welsh helped forge a 20-all tie.
Kills by Grentz and Perkins County’s Kristin Beck finally gave the West the game, 26-24.

“Those girls pulled together and had a strong determination to work, and we had some big kills and blocks and pulled together for that win,” said Kayleigh Schadwinkel, who was chosen by media members and East coaches as the Most Valuable Player of a West team that turned in solid and balanced numbers.

“We had such amazing girls, it was a team effort for this award,” said Schadwinkel, who had 14 service points with a team-high two aces, made three kills, nine digs and nine setting assists. “Everyone worked really hard together and meshed together well, and we were fast on offense and fast on defense.”

Greene and Schadwinkel put their experience together since seventh grade to work with a block in the first game to keep a run of five straight points alive for a quick 10-3 lead. It was a stretch that the East cut into by only as close as 23-21 before the West finished by scoring off two East errors.

“We’ve played so long together that we just knew each other’s tendencies,” Schadwinkel said. “It was a real asset to have that mesh one more time and to be able to play together one more time.”
Grentz and Scottsbluff’s Morgan Yost shared the West lead in kills with six apiece, while former Mitchell teammate Nicole Houston had two solo blocks.

Greene was tops in digs with 12 and Yost had 10.
Perkins County’s Beck had 13 setting assists, and three players that included Bridgeport’s Ashley Stevens had four blocking assists each.
Andrea Werth of Eustis-Farnham was chosen as the East MVP, the first such honor for a player from the Class D2 school in Frontier County.
Werth had an East-high six kills, with one assisted block and 12 digs. Other East leaders were Lexington’s Zulema Reyes with 13 service points and two service aces, Brady’s Megan Polt with 15 digs and Valentine’s Amanda O’Kief with 15 of 17 assists.

Kayleigh Schadwinkel said that the chance to play for her dad, who led the Bulldogs to the Class B state tournament the past two years, one more time was a blessing.

“He has such a knowledge and wisdom of the game that is phenomenal,” Kayleigh said. “I was blessed to be in a game with him one more time.”

While Kayleigh goes off to Doane College in Crete to continue her volleyball career – a decision on which she said she only decided to make in late April – her dad will face a rebuilding task in the fall for his 28th season as Gering’s head coach.

And Saturday’s father-daughter finale proved to be more emotional on the coach who taught his daughter to volley with balloons when Kayleigh was old enough to stand on her own.

“It’s kind of hard, but with her being named MVP, it really sends her out a winner two ways,” he said. “It was a really special day.”

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