Fearsome Freshmen

Jamie Tanata

Jamie Tanata

South Dakota State’s women’s volleyball team may be young, but it holds much potential for the upcoming season with three freshman starters.

Half of this year’s team is made up of freshman, leaving the rest as returning players and giving them a 10-8 team standing.

“We’re a young team and still learning the system, but I think we’re where we want to be at this point,” SDSU’s Head Volleyball Coach Andrew Palileo said.

As for Stephanie Behm, Minette Ridenour, and Laura Hegerle, they will be learning the ropes for their team’s upcoming success as the three freshman starters this season.

Stephanie Behm

Stephanie Behm, red-shirt freshman setter, said afterlearning from last season’s senior setter, Angie Rim, she is ready to lead the team into bigger goals.

“After red shirting last year, it was really helpful to learn the techniques and to have bigger goals this year,” she said. “As a leader of the team, I want to lead us through big matches. We want to qualify for nationals because this is our last year to be at the top of the conference,” Behm said.

Despite what people think of the young team, Behm does not let it get in her way. “Everyone was curious of how we would do this year,” she said. “We really came together well and with only having six returnees, we’ve been really clicking well and have a lot of potential even though we’re young.”

She said despite what people might think, “we’ve really come from behind emotions” in proving them wrong.

Seniority does come from experience, however, and Behm says one area of improvement the team could work on is continuing their competitive edge from practice to competitions.

“We have very competitive practices and we just need to relate those to real games. That’ll be the key to winning,” she said.

Behm’s experience has come from years of playing volleyball in her hometown of Jackson, where she played volleyball since 5th grade and was a six-year member of the Junior Olympic Team. Over her high school years she has accumulated many awards, along with helping her team place second in the state championship her senior year. Individually Behm has gained First Team All-Parklin Conference, Player of the Year for Parklin Conference, All-State Tournament Team, and County Player of the Year to name a few.

Her love of the game has a lot to do with the many friendships she has made from the team. “We are a family,” she said. Behm says she also loves the challenge of having a really competitive team and conference. “It challenges you everyday,” she concluded.

Minette Ridenour

Minette Ridenour, outside and right side hitter, has been staying positive despite the ups and downs the team has been having this season.

“We were ranked pretty high at the beginning of the season and then we didn’t come out as strong,” she said. “We have to not really worry about the past and we need to stay focused and improve on our game now.”

Ridenour’s goals for the team this year is to keep improving and advancing to nationals. “We’ve had some bumps in the road, and that’ll help us in the long run to stay focused so we can make it to nationals” she said. The biggest challenge for the team she said is, “we need to work on consistency and applying that to our game. We’ve been working hard.”

As for herself, her goal is to secure her spot as a starter and “to improve my play and try to stay confident and focused.”

Volleyball was not always Ridenour’s frame of mind for the future even though she has been playing since she was really young. “Between my sophomore and junior year I thought I was going to play basketball,” she said.

As she got more involved in Junior Olympic Volleyball, she couldn’t pass it up. “I fell in love with volleyball,” she said. Her J.O. team advanced to nationals twice and her high school team made a state trip her junior year, missing a state berth her senior year by two points.

Her love for volleyball has grown with her since her move to SDSU. “I love the competitive atmosphere and playing top-level volleyball with friends, and representing SDSU,” she said.

Ridenour, a native to Council Bluffs, IA, has achieved Missouri Valley All-Conference, All-State for two years, and All-city for three years. “I’ve been pretty successful in volleyball and I hope to continue that success” she said.

Laura Hegerle

Outside hitter Laura Hegerle has grown up with volleyball most of her life as both her parents and brother played.

Hegerle said she has played since she was in third grade and was welcomed on the varsity team when she was only in eighth grade.

Like many other successful volleyball players, she also played on the Junior Olympic Northern Lights volleyball team for four years.

“I like how volleyball is so intense, and enjoy hitting a lot and getting a lot of kills and digs,” Hegerle said as she holds the Kasson-Mantorville High School’s record for kills and digs.

Her biggest goal this season right now is to not lose any more conference games and make it to regionals. “We’re doing good on our offense,” she said.

But said the team needs to be more consistent on defense. “We need to play well together all the time.”

She also said even though most of the freshman on the team play, there is a lot of experience coming onto the court. “We are just getting use to playing with each other and it’s not because we’re young and inexperienced,” she said.

Hegerle wants to have a high hitting nine and become more vocal for the team and have over ball control as goals she has set for herself.

Coming from hometown Dodgecenter, MN, Hegerle has become quite successful in the Hawiawatha Valley League Conference as being All-Conference for four years,

All-State and All-State Tournament Team for a year. She was also the Amateur Athletic Union’s (AAU) All-American.