High School Volleyball: Verndale more than just 'Glenz Show'

Volleyball fans are going to hear the Glenz name a lot when the Verndale Pirates take the court 1 p.m. Thursday in their first state tournament appearance.

Verndale’s volleyball team holds the Section 5-1A championship trophy after the beat Nevis 3-0 last Saturday in Pierz. (Kelly Humphrey, Brainerd Dispatch)
Verndale’s volleyball team holds the Section 5-1A championship trophy after the beat Nevis 3-0 last Saturday in Pierz. (Kelly Humphrey, Brainerd Dispatch)

Volleyball fans are going to hear the Glenz name a lot when the Verndale Pirates take the court 1 p.m. Thursday in their first state tournament appearance.

The fifth-seeded Pirates (28-5) face the No. 4 Heritage Christian Academy Eagles (26-10) from Maple Grove in the quarterfinals on Court 2 of the Excel Energy Center in St. Paul. Both teams are making their first state tournament appearances.

Sisters Jordyn, Shania and Morgan Glenz are all starters and their mom Shelley Glenz is in her seventh year of coaching the Pirates.

However, the rest of the players and Verndale fans know that it will be much more than just the "Glenz Show." The Pirates are a team of players who all contribute, support, accept and encourage one another.

"These girls have been playing together for so many years that they have really come together as a team," said coach Glenz. "It's not about individual play or age, but about how they can help and encourage one another."


Senior co-captains Jordyn Glenz (5-7 middle hitter) and Sarah Moenkedick (5-5 outside hitter) head the starting lineup that also includes junior Shania Glenz (5-9 middle hitter) and freshman Morgan Glenz (5-5 outside hitter). Junior setters Haley Stinar (5-1) and Megan Dougherty (5-6) round out the starters.

"Heritage is going to have a height advantage, but that's what we've seen all year," said Shelly Glenz. "We just have to play our game. It's been an exciting week, but the girls are settling down and are ready to play."

Shania Glenz leads the team in kills with 460 and Jordan Glenz is second with 380.

"Shania is an explosive hitter and is pretty dominating in the front row," said Shelly Glenz. "She runs a variety of attacks and is a momentum builder for us. She plays with a lot of passion and emotion."

"Jordyn and Sarah are our co-captains for the second year and are definitely our leaders. Jordan has a tendency to step up in big games and is our leading blocker (70.5 blocks). She hits around the block well and gets kills with accurate hitting more than power. Another strength for her is her defensive play. She is one of our leading diggers (third with 324).

"Sarah isn't as powerful a hitter, but more crucial for us for her defensive skills. She is routinely our dig leader (first with 362) along with Alexis Steege (senior libero who is second with 353 digs). People who don't understand volleyball don't realize how important that is. Sarah's just a solid hitter, but more important is her defensive play. She's really quick and makes it hard for teams to get a point off a tip. Sarah is our all-time dig leader and set the school record for digs last year as a junior."

"Alexis moved in from Hancock and is new to the team this year. It's nice to have her able to go in for Morgan who is young and she also gets Shania out of the back row. It's nice to have her heart and I don't know if we would be where we are without her."

Morgan Glenz leads the team with 46 ace serves and is third in kills with 186.


"Even though she's the youngest, she's one of our leaders," said Shelly Glenz. "She plays with a lot of passion and probably has improved the most for the season. She has good ball control for her age and brings a lot of energy to the court."

Stinar is leading the team in set assists with 468 and Dougherty is right behind with 445. Both will pass the school set assists record - Stinar did it earlier this year and Dougherty will do it at the state tournament,

"Haley is a tough competitor who is always going 100 percent," said Shelly Glenz. "She's been working and setting for these girls for a long time and they really play a fast-tempo offense. In some games, she's also been our dig leader."

"Megan will get her 1,000th set assist down at state. It's only her second year setting and she's gone from never to really embracing the role and excels at it. Haley and Megan are best friends and don't compete with each other - they work with each other which is really important when you run a 6-2 (offense)."

Two other players seeing regular playing time are freshman Allison Olsson (middle hitter) and junior Alexys Thompson (right hitter).

"Allison stepped in this year as a freshman and never played varsity before," said Glenz. "At first she was timid and struggled with her confidence and we really worked on that. She's gotten some key blocks and gotten more confident and will probably be our starting middle hitter next year."

"Alexys always has a good attitude and embraces her role. She's very encouraging to the rest of the girls - she reminds them of their goals and keeps them focused."

Coach Glenz added that Verndale has given out a number of game balls for landmarks achieved this season in addition to the aforementioned set assist records by Stinar and Dougherty.


Shania Glenz and Jordyn Glenz both got their 1,000th kills at the Minnesota Showcase. Shania recorded her 1,000th dig and with 1,360 current kills has passed the school record of 1,280 set in 1995 by Stephanie McGrane, sister of Shelley Glenz and aunt of Shania.

Sarah Moenkedick, with 1,442 career digs, continues to surpass the school record of 1,007 set by her sister Theresa Moenkedick. Jordyn Glenz and Steege have also exceeded the previous dig record.

Verndale and Heritage have never played before, but Glenz pointed out some of the Eagles' strengths in addition to their height advantage.

Jenay Fuglestad is a 6-1 senior middle hitter who received all-state honorable mention last year and leads the team this year with 434 kills.

Bella Lien is a 6-2 junior middle hitter who's second in kills with 321 and leads the team with 45 solo blocks.

Junior setter Maddy Torve leads JCC in set assists with 823 and is fourth in kills with 113. Junior defensive specialist Sarah Suits paces the Eagles with 517 digs and 75 ace serves.

Verndale and Heritage competed in the MN Showcase this year with each finishing 2-4. The Pirates competed in the Class A division and the Eagles in Class AA where three of their losses came against teams that reached the 2A state tournament this fall.

The winner of Thursday's quarterfinal will face the Bethlehem Academy/Cook County winner in the semifinals at 1 p.m. Friday with the loser dropping down to the consolation bracket.


Bethlehem Academy is the defending state champion while Cook County is making its first appearance. Sebeka and Waterville-Elysian-Morristown are also appearing in the 1A state tournament for the first time.

Shelley Glenz has compiled a 124-86-5 record in seven years of coaching and is 51-13 the past two years.

Verndale almost made it to the state tournament last year, but suffered an emotional 3-2 semifinal loss (22-25, 27-25, 23-25, 25-23, 7-15) to eventual section champion Browerville. Coach Glenz was undergoing treatment for cancer during the playoffs and drove directly to the semifinal match from the Mayo Clinic. Her cancer is now in remission.

"That was so emotionally exhausting for everyone, but this year has been so different," she said. "The Browerville loss last year was a springboard for us this year. The girls have been focused ever since then and it was their motivation to improve this year."

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