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Warriors Athlete of Week: Stall wants the ball

Maddy Stall Sport: Volleyball Position: Libero Year: Senior Age: 17 Height: 5-4 Career highlight: Making varsity volleyball team as eighth-grader Other sports: Basketball, softball Grade-point average: 3.0 Favorite class: Science Favorite food: M...

Maddy Stall

Sport: Volleyball

Position: Libero

Year: Senior

Age: 17

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Height: 5-4

Career highlight: Making varsity volleyball team as eighth-grader

Other sports: Basketball, softball

Grade-point average: 3.0

Favorite class: Science

Favorite food: Mashed potatoes

Favorite movie: "Remember the Titans"

Favorite TV show: "Criminal Minds"

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Favorite website: Instagram

Future plans: Attend college, major in animal science, become certified veterinarian technician

Favorite volleyball player: University of Minnesota middle blocker Hannah Tapp

Parents: Scott and Carla Stall

Chances are if you're at a Brainerd Warriors volleyball game one player is hooting and hollering on almost every play.

That player would be senior libero Maddy Stall, Brainerd's captain and No. 1 cheerleader. From her back row position, she's the team's field general. The five-year varsity starter virtually touches the ball each time the opponent sends it over the net.

"Overall, you need a loud person on the team," Stall said. "I think I'm that person.

"I definitely have the experience so it's my job to lead the girls around, tell them where to go, what to do, reassure them it's OK to make mistakes, that they won't be judged or taken out after a little mistake."

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Brainerd coach Jared Diem doesn't want Stall only to have the ball at crunch time. He wants her to touch it every time the ball crosses the net.

"She's the girl out there that wants every ball," Diem said. "If there's any indecision, and that happens a lot - you've seen games where we just made dumb mistakes where the ball drops between two girls because they're not communicating. Maddy is screaming, yelling, wanting the ball, pushing girls out of the way to get every single ball - and not in a bad way. She's doing as good volleyball players do. They're loud. They communicate. They're aggressive. They just want the ball.

"She's a ball hog and that's what we want. We want girls who want the ball, who go for every single play and make that play. She does that over and over. If the ball's in the back row, I know it's going to be safe and secure. I know there's going to be good choices if Maddy's available to make the contact."

The All-Central Lakes Conference player is the Warrior who makes a new offense tick.

"We have a short team this year so we had to adapt our style of play offensively," Diem said. "We pretty much shoot the ball every time - quick, everything is Tempo One. You don't see a lot of high-outside sets or middle sets that are high that you see traditionally from every other team. We shoot the ball every single time. We could not have done that if Maddy was not in the back row."

Stall's role is clear in the new offense.
"My job is to get the ball up there so they can run a fast offense, get it off quickly so they can run it and get the other team off their game and on their heels," she said.

In addition to her defensive prowess, Diem said Stall has improved other areas of her game.

"She hits the ball well from the back row," he said. "She makes great decisions. She doesn't hit it in the net, she doesn't hit it out. She's going to put the ball in play or she's going to hit the ball well.

"It gives a coach great comfort to know someone's back there who's in charge, someone who's going to make good, smart decisions. She leads our back row defensively which ... will maximize the types of sets we're going to get in the front row."

Possibly the best game of Stall's career was Sept. 29 at Bemidji where she amassed 41 digs in a 3-1 loss - averaging about seven digs per set.

"That's the most digs I've ever seen from any of my players in the last nine years," Diem said. "She's saving points. A dig is a hit from another player. She's saving those points from becoming points for the other team."

Stall, who also plays in the Junior Olympic volleyball program out of Central Lakes College in Brainerd in the offseason, also catches for the Warriors' softball team and is one of that team's leaders. She sees similarities between catching and being a libero.

"As a catcher, you see the whole field," she said. "A libero see holes in the block, where hitters are going to hit."

Diem said Stall is the most talented player he has coached.
"I coached Tedi Ramberg (now at Concordia College), Sydnie Mauch (now at Minnesota-Duluth) and other girls that have gone on to play collegiately," he said. "Maddy deserves to be all-state. She would be such an asset to any (college) team. She just plays so well."

Other notable efforts:

• Katie Streiff & Hannah McKeag, swimming, each won individual titles in the Section 8-2A True Team meet.

• Allen Jevning, football ran for 140 yards and a TD vs. Sartell.

• Mitchell Rahn, football, rushed for 125 yards and a TD vs. Sartell.

MIKE BIALKA may be reached at mike.bialka@brainerddispatch.com or 218-855-5861. Follow on Twitter at www.twitter.com/bertsballpark .

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