While the future is bright for Abbi Bohlen, the present isn’t bad either.
The setter for the Brainerd Warriors volleyball team is enjoying her senior season surrounded by what she calls the most talent she’s ever had.
“I have a very stacked offense this year,” Bohlen said. “I’ve never had as many options as I have this year. In the past, I had like maybe two (hitters) that were my primaries. This year I have three or four options so it’s definitely a positive thing for me. I can go almost anywhere and I have so much confidence in my hitters.”
Brainerd has four hitters with at least 56 kills heading into the Tuesday, Nov. 17 Central Lakes Conference rematch with Sartell.
Bohlen has dished out 220 set assists while sharing time with fellow senior setter Grace Peabody.
“She’s been pretty consistent with us and a stable force,” Brainerd head coach Rick Kuehlwein said. “She’s starting to think like a setter instead of just going through the motions. She’s going where we are going to have success. For her, she’s making good choices. She’s really come into her own once Hala Davis has improved her game.”
Bohlen sees the dual setter role as an asset to both her and Peabody.
“Me and Grace are very good friends on and off the court so I think it’s an advantage to have good chemistry with her. When it’s a bad game and we don’t know what our next play should be, we look at each other for advice. When we’re getting down on ourselves, it’s really good that we can lift each other up and build our confidence. I think we work really well together and we’re always looking out for each other. For example, on what we think a good play would be. If we think a certain play should be next we never hesitate to tell each other. If we know someone is doing well and they just aren’t getting the sets we tell each other. We always have our input with each other.”
Bohlen does have two kills to go with 58 digs and 17 ace serves on 93.6% serving. Last season, she finished with three kills, 132 digs, 439 set assists and 23 ace serves on 95.7% serving.
“Her defense is improving as long as she keeps discipline,” Kuehlwein said. “In the matches where we are winning and should win, she’s a little bit lax. She’s focused when we have big matches. But you know what, she enjoys playing in those big matches. That’s another thing that’s good about her. She wants to play against the best. Win or lose, that’s the deal for her.”
Bohlen agreed her defense is better and she said staying aggressive is key, but with 6-foot Hala Davis in front of her she doesn’t see many opportunities unless it’s a short tip.
What she’s confident in is her serving despite not using her best serve.
“A few years ago I had a jump serve and I absolutely loved it,” Bohlen said. “Then I got hurt and I kind of lost that jump serve. I still could do it, but I am confident with my serving and I don’t think I make as many mistakes as I think I do in games. When we played Apollo, I think I served 14 or something like that in a row and that was fun. That doesn't happen very often. Normally you can only get three or four serves in so if you’re getting more that’s pretty fun.”
In that 3-0 win over St. Cloud Apollo Nov. 9, Bohlen went 35-of-36 with four ace serves. She added six digs and 24 set assists in the quick win.
In a 3-2 loss Nov. 10 at Alexandria, Bohlen collected 34 set assists, 11 digs and was 15-of-16 serving with two aces.
Being a senior and a setter lends itself to being a leader and Bohlen does it the right way in Kuehlwein’s eyes.
“She handles it quietly,” he said. “She’s a lot like Avery Eckman was and goes about her job by doing and not yelling and screaming.”
Said Bohlen about being a leader: “I think when you’re a setter you definitely have to have good leadership. You have to always be thinking about that next play. After the pass, you’re in charge of what’s going to happen next. It’s up to you about the next play. You have to know what the lineups are on the other side. Who is going to get the best hit out of that pass?
“I think oftentimes you have to be very humble about it because setters don’t get recognized very often because we aren’t the ones getting the points. But we have good leadership because we’re making the plays happen. We’re making sure we’re getting those points by getting the sets to the right people after the right passes.”
Bohlen dislocated her ankle during her sophomore season, but made sure to get back in time for offseason play and workouts. A new system had her concerned and she wanted to be ready.
“It was a little bit difficult,” Bohlen said. “I was definitely trying to heal in time to go back into my (Junior Olympic) season because our team had switched a lot between my sophomore and junior seasons. I think it was really crucial to get back into the gym for my JO season after my 10th-grade year. My injury recovery was kind of long and was a little nerve-wracking. I definitely went into the season a little more hesitant with playing.”
Healthy, confident and experienced, Kuehlwein believes Bohlen will be an excellent college setter.
“Abbi has done a fine job coming back from injury and she’s going to be a nice player at the next level,” he said. “I can tell you that for sure.”
JEREMY MILLSOP may be reached at 855-5856 or email@example.com. Follow on Twitter at www.twitter.com/jeremymillsop.
Other notable performances
Karlie Anderson, volleyball, finished with 20 kills, 12 digs and five blocks against Alexandria.
Hala Davis, volleyball, finished with 13 kills, five digs and two blocks against Alexandria.
Madison Genz, volleyball, finished with 14 kills and 18 digs against Alexandria.
Career highlight: Beating the Pequot Lakes Patriots last season
Favorite class: Physical Education
Favorite food: Walking tacos
Favorite movie: “The Shallows”
Favorite TV show: “The Vampire Diaries”
Favorite website or app: TikTok
Favorite restaurant: Chick-fil-A
Future plans: Attend Nursing school and play volleyball
Favorite athlete: Samantha Seliger Swenson
Parents: Jen and Dave Mimm, Josh and Beth Bohlen