Devils Lake Journal Athlete of the Week: Rachel Dahlen
DEVILS LAKE – There was only one nomination in this week’s “Athlete of the Week” ballot, but no matter. A nominee is still a nominee, and in this case, a winner is still a winner. In this week’s “Athlete of the Week” installment, middle hitter Rachel Dahlen took home the honor.
From her time in the volleyball program, the Devils Lake senior has shown the ability to establish a steady court presence and create rhythm at the front of the court to maintain that presence over an extended period.
A quick glimpse at Dahlen’s production over the previous week of action would illustrate Dahlen’s two-way capabilities. During Devils Lake’s 3-2 win over Grand Forks Central on Oct. 4, Dahlen tallied 25 kills, a single-match record for the program. The previous match-high for the program was 24 (Joelle Larson).
But Dahlen's big-time production did not end there. Quite the contrary, in fact.
Although the Firebirds did not come out of the Scheel’s Invite with a win, Dahlen still showed out during the Fargo trip. Throughout the two-day tournament (Oct. 8-9), Dahlen compiled 58 kills, 20 digs, 19 blocks and two aces in six total matches.
“She is such a dominating force in the front role in being able to play smart and not only using her ability to kill the ball but block and tip as well,” Devils Lake head coach Megan Sylling said.
Although she is a middle hitter by nature, Dahlen has shown the tendency to be more than just an offensive threat as the 6’2” athlete has been a staunch player on the defensive side. Dahlen has already smashed the single-season record for blocks (95).
“Rachel is an all-around player,” Sylling said. “She is able to play in the back row. This weekend, she had over 20 digs to add to her blocking and spiking. She is able to see the defense and not only be a force on the front row but help the back row players with the defensive tactics. She leads the girls in such a unique way.”
However, Dahlen’s importance to the team has gone beyond her knack for padding the kills or collecting the digs. Although Dahlen is not a captain by title, she has proven herself to be a mentor for the younger players.
As the Firebirds look to finish their season on a high note, Dahlen, in Sylling’s mind, will be an essential piece to making that become a reality. After all, Sylling’s experience working with Dahlen from the latter’s first time on the court to now has always been positive.
“Rachel is somebody who they can look up to, and they know who will help them in different aspects of the game,” Sylling said. “Rachel can help somebody break down different tactics, whether it is hitting a ball or looking at a defense. She can help them break it down and show them what the correct positioning is if they need it explained to them in a different way. She is also somebody who can take my younger girls and help them build confidence in themselves, and it is something that is so important for my program. She is somebody who is going to leave such a lasting impact on the volleyball program for Devils Lake.”
Congratulations to Dahlen for winning the “Athlete of the Week” honor.
The Devils Lake Journal hosts its “Athlete of the Week” contest weekly. The athletes nominated and/or given the award are based on the athlete’s performance from the prior week. Ballot nominations are submitted from Saturday morning to Monday at 10:00 a.m. Finalist voting starts Monday at noon and ends Tuesday at 4:00 p.m. CT, assuming more than one finalist has been cast.
The following programs can nominate an athlete for the honor: Devils Lake, Four Winds/Minnewaukan, North Star/Starkweather, Langdon/Edmore/Munich, Benson County, Nelson County, Dakota Prairie, Lakota, New Rockford-Sheyenne and Lake Region State College. Nominations will vary depending on the time of the season. Follow along on Facebook and Twitter for the release of the weekly ballot.