Three Lake Region State Volleyball storylines to watch as 2022 season begins

John B. Crane
Devils Lake Journal

DEVILS LAKE – The Lake Region State Lady Royals will officially take to the volleyball court on Aug. 19 to participate in the BSC Mystic Invite. After a four-game road stretch, the Lady Royals will trek back home to play Dakota College at Bottineau on Aug. 24. 

The Lake Region State Lady Royals officially begin their volleyball season on Aug. 19.

The 2022 season will be a transitional one for the Lady Royals. After a less than optimal 2021 season saw the team go 11-23 overall and 0-12 in conference play, the Steve Waddell-led Lady Royals will look toward their six returning sophomore players – Jozey Goodall, Lexi Telehey, Ashley McFadgen, Mencia Rodriguez, Audrey Welle and Madeleine Stefonowicz) – to lead a group of up-and-coming first-year players with local ties. 

Here are three Lake Region State Volleyball storylines to watch as the season officially begins: 

1. Reinforcing (and finding) firepower 

Four Lady Royals compiled 150 kills or more during the 2021 season (Telehey with 260, Welle with 172, McFadgen with 154 and Stefonowicz with 152). The good news? All four return to the fold this season. Of course, the quartet will need to crank it up a notch – only one of the four (Telehey) averaged more than two kills per set (2.26). 

All four Lady Royal players, not to mention the influx of first-year talent in the system (more on that below), will need to up the volume in shot generation over the net should they wish to win an extra match or two. Simply attacking earlier and with more volume will be critical – 15 of Lake Region State’s 23 losses came via a sweep. 

2. The local pipeline – how much of a factor will new players play? 

Anyone with a fraction of familiarity with the local high school volleyball realm will quickly recognize a slew of new Lady Royal players. McKenna Tofsrud and Desidy Schwanke hail from the Benson County Volleyball ranks. Morgan Thielbar transitions from Langdon Area/Edmore/Munich. Lindsey Nyhagen’s presence as a setter paid dividends during her tenure as a North Star Bearcat. Best not to forget about the Devils Lake trio of Vivianna Kraft, Brynn Johnson and Rebekah Widmer, either. 

Where they all fit will be a work-in-progress, as is everything else. And competition for minutes will likely be a battle throughout the season. But any and all reinforcements for the sophomore quartet will be worth it. 

3. Finding that go-to middle hitter 

On paper, the Lady Royals have outside-hitting depth. Telehey, Kraft, McFadgen and Widmer can certainly fit that bill, assuming they aren’t being transitioned to another position. But moving players around will undoubtedly be in the cards for the Lady Royals. The same thing goes for depth at the setter position – Thielbar, Johnson and Nyhagen all have experience there, not to mention the sophomore in Rodriguez. 

Positions can be flexible regarding NJCAA volleyball discussion, but what the Lady Royals will look to find within their depth is a for-sure middle hitter that can find enough of a jolt to ramp up the team’s offensive output. 

John Crane is a sports/general assignment reporter for the Devils Lake Journal. Feel free to contact John via work phone (701-922-1372), cell phone (701-230-4339), email (jcrane@gannett.com) or Twitter (@johncranesports) with any story ideas.