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By Missy Klatt
Glenwood City senior Maddie Oehlke has been named the volleyball player of the year for the Dunn-St. Croix conference for 2020.
Oehlke who started playing volleyball in the fifth grade capped off her high school career by being part of a history-making Hilltopper team as it won the conference championship for the first time.
“Maddie has definitely earned the 2020 Player of the Year for the DSC,” stated her head coach Nicole Miller. “She has played varsity all four years of her high school career along with doing club volleyball in the off season. She is dedicated all year round with sports and continued to better herself by leaving time for weight room workouts and keeping herself in shape. She is driven as an athlete and is not afraid to go the extra mile to make herself better. She is a true leader on and off the court.”
Maddie Oehlke led the team this past season in kills with 111 and blocks with 6 solo and 34 block assists. She was second to her sister, Ryeah in set assists with 106 to Ryeah’s 170 and second in serving aces with 17 to Ryeah’s 24. Maddie was also third in digs with 80.
During her four-year varisty career, Maddie Oehlke compiled an impressive list of statistics. She finished with 264 kills, 484 assists, 70 serving aces, 345 digs, 100 total blocks including 21 solo and played in 187 sets.
“She has shown growth, not only in her skill level but also as a team leader,” added Miller. “She knows how to set the tempo of each match. She encourages her teammates to get out of their comfort zones by trying new ways to improve both skill and knowledge level. Maddie’s teammates and underclassmen really take in the tips and knowledge Maddie offers them throughout the season. She is not afraid to go out of her own comfort zone to try things that will make the team better as a whole to go for a win.”
Maddie helped her team finish the year with a record of 9-2, losing to Clear Lake in the WIAA Division 3 regional final. Glenwood City was 8-1 in conference play to win the D-SC championship.
When asked if she was surprised about this honor, a very poised and humble Oehlke replied, “I was a little surprised. I knew that I had a couple of girls that were going to be a tougher competition for me to get voted on or to beat them out with it.”
She conceded that there are some talented girls in the conference but that we all work really hard.
“I was just thankful that the coaches ended up voting for me. It’s exciting that’s for sure,” stated Oehlke.
Oehlke played both in the setter position and as a right-side hitter. As to which position she liked better, Maddie said that it was tough to decide.
“I love setting when I have teammates that put the ball away because it’s so exciting to be a part of that kill or that way to throw the other team out of system,” Oehlke said. “I really do love playing right side and hitting. I love getting up on the ball and blocking. Blocking is probably my favorite part, the most exciting for me. I get a big block, I come off that net super pumped up.”
As for a chance to play with her younger sister, freshman Ryeah, Maddie had this to say: “Playing with Ryeah is something that we both always dreamed of doing and coming into this season not knowing what was going to happen, we were pretty sad but we knew that if we did get the opportunity we were just going to make something really great of it and work really hard to make something happen for Glenwood City. Along with Bella (Rassbach) and Yaz (Mendez) and Kristen (Dayton) and the rest of the team, we were just really determined to take this season for what it was going to be and to really push hard to make those little girls watching in the stands or online to get excited for what they can do some year.”
Besides playing with her sister, Maddie’s mom, Bridget has been very involved with the volleyball program. Bridget was the Maddie’s coach in fifth through eighth grade for all the spring volleyball seasons and she was a volunteer coach for the high school during Maddie’s freshman, sophomore and senior years
“Last year she took a year off but having her back in the gym is a good thing,” remarked Maddie of her mother. She went on to say that she really has pushed both her and Ryeah. Maddie says she appreciates it because it makes them better. “She’s good to have in the gym because she has a lot of knowledge,” noted Maddie. She went on to say that it’s nice to have her there.
Maddie has also played club volleyball since seventh grade during the winters which she states is another great way to up your game and really get pushed because you are playing for other coaches who give you different ideas. “I love club volleyball,” Maddie enthused. Maddie played for Matrix out of Menomonie but this year because of covid-19 they aren’t playing. So she plans to try out for Eau Claire Air this winter.
Maddie is also one of the pitchers for the Hilltoppers’ softball team. At one time, softball was her favorite sport but in more recent times volleyball has taken that honor. She said not to get her wrong, she still loves softball but, she got a little burned out with it after playing 50-60 games some summers.
As for the future, Maddie plans to play volleyball in college and is looking at a few division two schools but she said that her first choice is UW-Eau Claire as she wants to be closer to home so, she can still see Ryeah play and be around to see the Hilltopper program grow.
Maddie’s advice for other volleyball players is to play with passion and drive and always continue to set goals for themselves and their team.
“It was an honor to coach Maddie the last two years of her high school career,” said Coach Miller. “I know she will do great things with her future and accomplish anything she sets her mind to.”