Female Athlete of the Week: Fellerman’s big week and leadership give Aitkin a boost
Lydia Fellerman knows others are watching her.
She knows the freshman on her team are watching her. So when she puts in a week like she did last week she can feel her Aitkin Gobblers teammates rally around her.
The junior hitter tallied 49 kills, 23 digs, five ace serves and five blocks in Aitkin’s wins over Hill City and Crosby-Ironton and in their four games in the Mora Tournament.
The winning week put the Gobblers above .500 for the season.
“At the beginning of the season it started out rough,” Fellerman said. “Our group didn’t really play together. Our junior group, we have been playing for awhile now. So our job is to include the younger girls and our one senior and try to bond together so when we go into a game we are all ready.”
Aitkin has played better of late led by Fellerman. The Gobblers started the season 4-7, but after their wins over Hill City and C-I improved to 8-8 and currently sit at 11-11.
“After the Pierz Tournament we started to bond as a team,” Aitkin coach Julie Asmus said. “It took us a while to feel each other out to know where everyone’s place is on the team. They are starting to gel together now and my juniors with experience are really stepping up.”
Fellerman was one of the four varsity returners for Aitkin in 2019. Asmus asked the four returners to play the role of mentor to the younger freshmen.
Fellerman’s pupil is freshman hitter Teagan Piecek and she is vocal on the court and encouraging to Piecek. It’s not just Fellerman leading the way, but all the returners.
“They all have their different people they are leading,” Asmus said. “But they all stepped up to lead the rest of the team.”
One of the keys to Fellerman’s play is her all-around ability. She rarely subs out which means she plays just as well in the back row as she can in the front row. All the playing time she has gotten in 2019 has given her confidence and helped her become a better leader.
“I know I am meant to be on the court,” Fellerman said. “I know I am one of the leaders on the court. So if one of my teammates makes a mistake I just tell her it’s okay because I do that too. And when I hit it out I know I have to keep my head up because the younger girls are watching me because I am their role model.”
Asmus said she was really impressed by how Fellerman played in the C-I game last week. Fellerman’s experience showed as Aitkin beat its Mid-State rival in straight sets.
“She’s also a very good hitter,” Asmus said. “She’s also very good at reading the other hitters, so she does a good job of stepping back and helping with coverage. It’s just nice to have someone with experience and footwork to play those positions.
“She has a really good ability to read the ball. She can adjust well to different sets. She can hit the ball from the front row and the back row. She is also very good at placing the ball.”
Fellerman knows she isn’t perfect. She knows there are things she can improve on, but her mindset stays the same.
“I try to focus on when I am in the back row to make my serve every time,” she said. “But try to make it harder so they get out of the system and can’t run quicks. When I am in the front row I just keep swinging and make sure even if I make a mistake to keep swinging that’s what my coaches tell me and sometimes it works out.
“Once I am hitting well on easier sets I try to get quicks in and in warmups, when I am doing well, I tell my setter I’m ready even if you don’t hear me.”
A big factor in Fellerman’s success is the trust she has built with her teammates. She feels a connection with her teammates on and off court and credits that to practice.
“One of my best friends is with me in the back row so I trust her and we know what our area is and what balls are ours,” Fellerman said. “And in practice we hit at each other. Our defense and serving is the main things we work on in practice.
“In practice, we try to do a game once every practice, like a team unity game. We all have fun and laugh. We are all friends and have team bonding.”
Other notable performances:
Volleyball: Kennedy Gravelle, Wadena-Deer Creek, combined to tally 34 kills in the Wolverines’ wins over Verndale and Pelican Rapids.
Kerstin Knopik, Little Falls, totaled 27 kills and nine blocks in the Flyers’ wins over Crosby-Ironton and Mora.
Kiara Olesch, Pierz, totaled 58 set assists and 19 digs in the Pioneers’ loss to Holdingford and win over Zimmerman.
Jayden Smeija, Pierz, totaled 25 kills and 38 digs in the Pioneers’ loss to Holdingford and win over Zimmerman.
Jordyn VanVickle, Pillager, totaled 26 kills and 28 digs in the Huskies’ loss to Staples-Motley and win over Bertha-Hewitt.
Rylie Hirschey, Pine River-Backus, tallied a total of 48 set assists, six ace serves and 13 digs in the Tigers’ wins over Clearbrook-Gonvick and Northome-Kelliher.
Tabetha Allen, Staples-Motley, tallied a total of 28 kills in the Cardinals’ win over Pillager and loss to Detroit Lakes.
Lydia Hubbard, Pequot Lakes, totaled 29 kills in the Patriots’ win over Perham and loss to Park Rapids.
Cross Country: Calia Chaney, Pequot Lakes, won the Falcon Invitational in 19:24.3.
Kira Sweeney, Wadena-Deer Creek, won the Deer River Invite in 19:38.
Tennis: Val Gall, Pierz, finished the week 4-0 including wins over Mora and LPGE and finished 2-0 and placed third in the Granite Ridge Conference Tournament.
Highlights: tallied a total of 49 kills, 23 digs, 5 ace serves and 5 blocks in Aitkin’s wins over Hill City and Crosby-Ironton and in their four games in the Mora Tournament in which the Gobbler’s went 2-2.