Peter Gustin’s first encounter with Rylee Smith came in 2010. He was an assistant coach at Solon High School; she was a freshman.
“We could see she had a lot of potential right away,” said Gustin, now the head coach. “(Then-coach Kurt Trout) told me to hit one hard at her and see what she does.”
She didn’t back away. She hung in and made a perfect pass.
“Everyone just stopped and stared a little bit,” Gustin recalled. “Then, we thought, let’s see if she can do it again.”
Smith departs the Solon volleyball program as the school’s leader in digs, both in a season. The Iowa Girls Coaches Association honors her as a Class 4A first-team all-stater.
The IGCA all-state teams are released today. Smith is one of three area first-team selections.
Michaela Nelson of Iowa City High is a 5A first-teamer; Maria Wrage of Union was selected to the top team in 3A.
Mikaela Foecke of Fort Madison Holy Trinity is the overall state player of the year. The junior, a University of Nebraska commitment, averaged 6.08 kills per game and posted a .569 kill efficiency in leading the Crusaders to the 1A state final.
The other class players of the year are Kyla Inderski of Urbandale (5A), Jess Schaben of Harlan (4A), Alexis Conaway of MOC-Floyd Valley (3A) and Briana Weber of Dike-New Hartford (2A).
Solon was the 4A state runner-up in 2012 and 2013, and Smith was the anchor in the back row during that run. This year, she averaged 4.92 digs per set.
“It was a lot of fun,” Smith said. “I have to give a lot of credit to Solon as a community. It’s a great place to be a (high school) athlete.
“As a libero, you’ve got to be able to play to everyone else’s strengths.”
A first-team all-stater for the third straight year, Nelson was a key figure as City High finished second in 5A in 2011 and 2012. This season, she netted 4.2 kills and 3.3 digs per game as the Little Hawks went 20-14.
Union has become a state-tournament fixture recently, and Wrage has been instrumental in the Knights’ success — they were 3A runners-up last year, and returned to the semifinals this time around.
Wrage averaged 3.9 kills and 1.3 blocks per game and hit .431 this season.
Area second-team picks were Amanda Ollinger of Cedar Rapids Jefferson in 5A, Solon’s Jordan Runge, West Delaware’s Paige Soppe and Cedar Rapids Xavier’s Kayla Torson in 4A, Mount Vernon duo Morgan Melchert and Hannah Whitley, plus Independence’s Shelby Lehman in 3A, and Casey Perez of Iowa Mennonite and Kameo Pope of Belle Plaine in 1A.
2013 ALL-STATE VOLLEYBALL TEAMS
(Iowa Girls Coaches Association)
Mikaela Foecke, jr., Fort Madison Holy Trinity; Kyla Inderski, sr., Urbandale; Jess Schaben, jr., Harlan; Alexis Conaway, sr., MOC-Floyd Valley; Briana Weber, jr., Dike-New Hartford; Rachel Koop, jr., Dike-New Hartford; Anna Willey, sr., Bettendorf; Jaali Winters, jr., Ankeny Centennial; Kasey Reuter, sr., Hinton.
Player of the year — Foecke.
First team — Kyla Inderski, sr., Urbandale; Jaali Winters, jr., Ankeny Centennial; Megan Ballenger, jr., Ankeny; Anna Willey, sr., Bettendorf; Devan Porter, sr., Bettendorf; Michaela Nelson, sr., Iowa City High; Taylor Joens, sr., Johnston.
Player of the year — Inderski. Coach of the year — Diane Lichtenberg, Bettendorf.
Second team — Caitlin Wernentin, sr., Bettendorf; Claire Wandrey, sr., Ankeny; Kaz Brown, sr., Cedar Falls; Jessi Henter, sr., West Des Moines Dowling; Morgan Waterman, sr., Pleasant Valley; Amanda Ollinger, soph., Cedar Rapids Jefferson; Lauren Streets, sr., Dubuque Hempstead.
First team — Jess Schaben, jr., Harlan; Hali Hillegas, jr., jr., Charles City; Abby Caldwell, sr., Waverly-Shell Rock; Danielle Cabel, sr., Davenport Assumption; Eleana Gray, jr., Waverly-Shell Rock; Rylee Smith, sr., Solon; Kaylee Smith, sr., Indianola.
Player of the year — Schaben. Coach of the year — Angie Spangenberg, Harlan.
Second team — Jordan Runge, jr., Solon; Mara Forsyth, sr., Charles City; Kayle Torson, jr., Cedar Rapids Xavier; Reghan Coyle, jr., Lewis Central; Kenzie Swanson, jr., Harlan; Paige Soppe, sr., West Delaware; Asia Kloewer, jr., Harlan.
First team — Alexis Conaway, sr., MOC-Floyd Valley; Claire Ludwig, sr., Carroll Kuemper; Jessica Van Beek, sr., Sheldon; Shelby Schoulten, sr., MOC-Floyd Valley; Kate Walker, jr., Red Oak; Maria Wrage, jr., Union; Kelsey Redmond, jr., Iowa Falls-Alden.
Player of the year — Conaway. Coach of the year — Jon Mouw, MOC-Floyd Valley.
Second team — Ali Grein, sr., Algona; Morgan Melchert, jr., Mount Vernon; Jennifer Buyert, sr., Sioux Center; Shelby Lehman, jr., Independence; Darcy Sunderman, sr., Clarinda; Marti Vogel, sr., Sheldon; Hannah Whitley, sr., Mount Vernon.
Third team — Anna Himan, sr., Roland-Story; Megan Prignitz, sr., Nevada; Jenny Bair, sr., Clarinda; Emily McDonald, sr., MOC-Floyd Valley; Breanna Bader, sr., Union; Anna Kiel, soph., Unity Christian; Karla Knobbe, sr., Carroll Kuemper.
First team — Briana Weber, jr., Dike-New Hartford; Rachel Koop, jr., Dike-New Hartford; Brooke Morgan, jr., Dike-New Hartford; Jamie Gesink, jr., Western Christian; Kasey Reuter, sr., Hinton; Haley Moss, sr., Western Christian; Alisa Pollema, sr., Western Christian; Karlie Taylor, soph., Eddyville EBF.
Player of the year — Weber. Coach of the year — Diane Harms, Dike-New Hartford.
Second team — Kylie Ferguson, sr., Council Bluffs St. Albert; Ema Altena, sr., Western Christian; Lizzy Blough, jr., Dike-New Hartford; Kalli Frisch, sr., Sumner-Fredericksburg; Riley Sents, sr., Grundy Center; Lindsey Peterson, sr., West Fork; Jade Schaap, sr., Western Christian; Gracie Myers, sr., Treynor.
Third team — Tasha Alexander, sr., Eddyville EBF; Haley Birks, jr., South Central Calhoun; Brynn Reichardt, jr., Des Moines Christian; Katelyn Schechinger, jr., IKM-Manning; Tori Owens, sr., Iowa City Regina; Kayla Prosser, sr., South Hardin; Lauren Hedlund, sr., Hinton’ Abby Musser, jr., Woodward-Granger.
First team — Mikaela Foecke, jr., Fort Madison Holy Trinity; Kendyl Sorge, jr., Janesville; Carmen Subbert, sr., Stanton; Morgan Whitehead, jr., LeMars Gehlen; Sylvia Amlie, sr., Janesville; Brittany Hanson, sr., Janesville; Maddie Thompson, sr., Grandview Park Baptist; Toni Moeller, sr., Tripoli.
Player of the year — Foecke. Coach of the year — Shelly Sorensen, Janesville.
Second team — Casey Perez, sr., Iowa Mennonite; Emily Parks, jr., New London; Noreen Marrow, sr., Harris-Lake Park; Kaylee Whittington, jr., Grandview Park Baptist; Sydney Danker, jr., Guthrie Center; Anna Backstrom, jr., Janesville; Claudia Larsen, sr., Newell-Fonda; Kameo Pope, sr., Belle Plaine.
Third team — Jordan Carter, jr., Sigourney; Hannah Barber, jr., Murray; Vicki Kordick, sr., Martensdale-St. Marys; Paige Figanbaum, sr., Tripoli; Tiffany Brunner, sr., Lamoni; Olivia Yutzy, sr., Iowa Mennonite; Erica Robison, sr., Winfield-Mount Union; Ashley Vande Stouwe, sr., Central Lyon.
Amanda Ollinger, Casey Perez, Hannah Whitley, IGCA all-state volleyball, Jordan Runge, Kameo Pope, Kayla Torson, Maria Wrage, Michaela Nelson, Mikaela Foecke, Morgan Melchert, Paige Soppe, Peter Gustin, Rylee Smith, Shelby Lehman