Female Area Athlete of the Week: Captain Carsten paces W-DC volleyball as a sophomore
Hard work has paid off for Madison Carsten.
The Wadena-Deer Creek sophomore spent most of her offseason playing volleyball. She spent time in the weight room. And in the Wolverines’ first two games last week, she tallied 20 kills, 41 digs, seven blocks and three ace serves in a win over Bertha-Hewitt and a loss to Henning.
“I really came out with a lot of fire,” Carsten said. “It really helps that I am used to playing with my team a little bit. I think our team is just clicking a little bit.”
Carsten’s improvements have not gone unnoticed by her coach.
“She’s really improved from last year to this year,” Wolverines head coach Sue Volkmann said. “She has just stepped up and been a leader on the floor. As a sophomore she is probably our best player on the floor.
“She is such a competitor. Just someone that the other players look up to as an example. She is definitely the hardest worker on the team, and they respect her for that.”
Her hard work was noticed by her teammates and they voted her captain this season as a sophomore.
“She is a real dedicated volleyball player,” Volkmann said. “She plays year round, so she wants to improve. She has ambition to play in college one day. She works extremely hard in the weight room. That’s probably been her biggest improvement.”
Carsten wanted to be a stronger player mentality to help in her new leadership role.
“I think that no matter how old you are, when you are named captain, you just need to go out there and play that role,” Carsten said. “Just lead the team and just help everybody play together.”
Carsten’s older sister, Mackenzie, graduated from WDC last year and was the Wolverines setter.
This season, eighth-grader Addyson Gravelle is tasked with setting up Carsten for spikes.
Carsten said that although she built a great relationship with her sister as setter, she is trending toward a strong relationship with Gravelle as well.
“Last year, having my sister as setter, I got used to her and she got used to me,” she said. “This year, with Addy Gravelle setting, it’s just something you have to change a little bit and she’s doing a good job of just playing out there and getting used to everyone.”
Volkmann wasn’t worried about the Gravelle-Cartsen relationship.
“In a small school you know other kids,” Volkmann said. “It’s not like you are coming into a situation where you’re first getting to know that player. Our setter happens to be an eighth-grader and (Carsten) has been really good at talking with her. With a young setter you have to communicate with her all the time and she’s been really good working with her.”
Carsten is a six rotation player for WDC because she steps up defensively in the back row.
“She is very, very, very quick on defense,” Volkman said. “Can anticipate really well. She covers a lot of ground in the back row for us. Just by her energy and her desire to go after the ball makes the other players follow suit. That just makes her stronger all the way across the floor.”
When Carsten plays in the back row she dives for every ball she thinks she can reach.
“Defense is just as important as offense,” she said. “I know without defense the offense isn’t going to be able to run. So I’m just thinking just go. Get touches and just go for everything.”
Carsten makes Volkmann’s job easier in practice and games.
“Because she can set the example for everyone else it makes it that much easier,” she said. “You run things through her and everyone else sees she’s going to do what you say and give 100 percent and they are going to do the same as well. I just have really good kids who are all really coachable. They are going to work hard no matter what.”
WDC has felt the challenge of playing during the COVID-19 pandemic. This week the Wolverines played Verndale without their eighth-grade class who were quarantined.
“We have to learn to adjust,” Volkmann said. “But they are so happy to be on the court that they will do anything to play.”
What made Carsten fall in love with volleyball was having to take responsibility for her mistakes. Now as a sophomore captain, she tries to fire up her teammates not with her voice but with her play.
“I expect us to do very well in our conference,” Carsten said. “For me, I just try to keep my team going and playing like I know how and our team knows how.”
Other notable performances:
Volleyball: Tabetha Allen, Staples-Motley, tallied 14 kills and 10 digs in a win over Park Rapids
Jacey Rydberg, Crosby-Ironton, tallied 13 kills, 15 set assists and 13 digs in a win over Park Rapids.
Tess Jones, Verndale, tallied 12 set assists, 11 kills and 17 digs in a win over Sebeka.
Jaime Johnson, Pine River-Backus, tallied 15 digs and 17 kills in a loss to Walker-Akeley-Hackensack.
Rylie Hirschey, Pine River-Backus, tallied 13 set assists and 22 digs in a loss to Walker-Akeley-Hackensack.
Olivia Adkins, Pine River-Backus tallied 16 set assists, six kills and 18 digs in a loss to Walker-Akeley-Hackensack.
Addyson Gravelle, Wadena-Deer Creek, tallied a total of 50 set assists and 15 digs in two games.
Swim/Dive: Emma Gustafson, Little Falls, was the Granite Ridge Conference diving champion.
Ella Rausch, Little Falls, was the Granite Ridge Conference 100-yard freestyle champion.
Soccer: Mikayla Houdek, Little Falls, scored a hat trick in a win over Apollo in the Section 8-1A quarterfinals.
Cross-Country: Calia Chaney, Pequot Lakes, won the Section 7-1A title in 18:48.6.
School: Wadena-Deer Creek
Highlights: She tallied a total of 20 kills, 41 digs, seven blocks and three ace serves in two games.