Female Area Athlete of Week: Papenfuss’s big week gives C-I Rangers 2 wins

Crosby-Ironton's Kallie Papenfuss is finding some confidence in her junior season and it's helping the Ranger volleyball team gain wins.

Kallie Papenfuss.

When Kallie Papenfuss is having an off day, she tries to make smart choices.

The Crosby-Ironton junior was not having an off day last week when she tallied 23 kills, nine set assists, six ace serves and 54 digs in two wins for the Rangers.

“I feel like we were just working really well together as a team last week,” Papenfuss said. “We just made good decisions when we were in system.”

Papenfuss is someone C-I relies on for offense.

“She probably touches the ball the most out of all the athletes on our team,” Rangers head coach Brad Hollenhurst said. “She just has a heavy workload. We’ve struggled a little bit with passing this year, so she does get a lot of balls set to her in her outside position. She just had a lot of control both hitting down the line and cross-court.”


Papenfuss knows the Rangers rely on her as well.

“Sometimes it’s a lot to handle because sometimes I’m not playing the best and get down on myself,” she said.

The biggest improvement to her game has been her court awareness.

“That’s important in order to swing successfully out there,” Hollenhurst said. “Now that this is her second full year being on varsity. I think she has that confidence to have the ball go out to her to get those points.”

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Coming into the year, Papenfuss wasn’t going to take anything for granted.

“Nothing is set in stone for this season and anything can happen,” she said. “I just go with the flow really.”

Last season, Papenfuss tallied 112 kills and 202 digs for C-I. Hollenhorst has noticed with the more experience she has gotten the less nerves he sees in her play.

“We are all human and have those moments, but I think she’s realized she’s put in some work and can go out and compete with the best of them,” he said. “That composure mentally and physically has definitely been an improvement.”


Papenfuss remembers feeling excited when she got her C-I varsity jersey as a freshman.

“It felt good,” she said. “But I was also really nervous.”

In the two Ranger wins last week, Hollenhurst also thought Papenfuss served exceptionally.

“Just keeping the ball in between players and keeping the other players out of their offense,” he said. “It’s fun to watch.”

When serving Papenfuss focuses on the toss.

“You can’t have a good serve without a good toss,” she said.

When Papenfuss plays back row, she can be just as valuable in the digs department as she is in kills.

“She’s playing left-back most of the time and she’s able to get opposing team’s outside players as well,” Hollenhurst said. “She just really puts herself in good position. She plays a lot of read defense, where she’s reading that hitter and putting herself in a position to be successful.”


Papenfuss’s goal is to not let a ball drop when she’s in the back row.

“I just try to get it and reach for the ball,” she said.

The strongest parts of Papenfuss’s game in her estimation is her passing and hitting skills.

“I like hitting more,” she said. “But you can’t hit if there is not a good pass. I feel like I have gotten better at hitting and passing. I’ve just become a better volleyball player overall.”

Papenfuss has built an excellent relationship with Rangers' setter Jacey Rydberg — who tallied 51 set assists in the two games last week.

“They play off each other pretty well and I give them both credit,” Hollenhurst said. “They worked really hard in the offseason and played for Jane Peterson’s (Junior Olympics) programs at Central Lakes College. Kallie is still trying to find that vocal leadership on the court. She just kind of leads by her play. But her, Jacey and Mya Decent all have good court awareness between the three of them.”

Papenfuss said because this is her second year playing with Ryberg their chemistry has improved.

“We kind of grew a connection throughout the year last year,” she said. “I feel like it’s gotten better this year.”


Hollenhorst calls Papenfuss very coachable and a good combination of silly and serious.

“She’s silly and goofy and hardworking,” he said. “Just a really easy-going kid who loves the sport and I think with every success is starting to have some confidence to take over some matches.”

Other notable performances:
Volleyball: Jacey Rydberg, Crosby-Ironton, tallied 13 kills, 51 set assists, one ace serve, 24 digs and four blocks on the week.
Madison Carsten, Wadena-Deer Creek, tallied 43 kills, 47 digs, five ace serves and three blocks on the week.
Morgan Becker, Staples-Motley, tallied 14 kills, 13 digs and one ace serve.
Leah Bestland, Staples-Motley, tallied 26 set assists, 19 digs and five ace serves.
Tess Jones, Verndale, tallied nine digs, three blocks, one ace serve, 10 set assists and 16 kills.
Kerstin Knopik, Little Falls, tallied 25 kills, five digs, four blocks and two ace serves.

CONRAD ENGSTROM may be reached at 218-855-5861 or Follow on Twitter at

Kallie Papenfuss

Year: Junior

School: Crosby-Ironton

Sport: Volleyball

Position: Outside hitter


Highlights: She tallied 23 kills, nine set assists, six ace serves and 54 digs on the week.

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