Published Saturday, December 21, 2013 at 12:01 am / Updated at 3:07 pm
Youth serves Class A team

The volleyball tradition at Papillion-La Vista is matched by few programs across the state.

In 2013, the Monarchs again established themselves as one of the elite programs in Nebraska with their third place finish at the Class A State Tournament, capping off a 28-11 campaign.

A big reason for their success was the play of three underclassmen, each of whom earned a spot on the 2013 All-In The Game Class A volleyball squad.

Juniors Elena Melendez and Jess Peters join sophomore Katie Stephens on the first team. Raegan LeGrand and Adyson Goodnight of Papillion-La Vista South help round out the first unit along with the Bellevue West duo of Katie Imig and Sage Meyer.

“All three of them worked very hard this year with being team players,” Monarch coach Kristen Lebeda-Svehla said of her trio. “They all worked well together.”

Katie Stephens - The sophomore was a dominant hitter and defender for the Monarchs. She led the squad with 307 kills and had 50 in three state tourney matches. She also generated 441 digs, second best on the team.

“Katie played her best at the end of the season and she became a go-to player and really elevated her game,” Lebeda-Svehla said.

Jess Peters - In her first year with the program, Peters stepped into the setters role and became a playmaker. She handed out 676 set assists and also generated 113 kills.

“Jess came in this year as a transfer and fit right into our program,” Lebeda-Svehla said. “She brought a competitive attitude and was a very positive team player. She helped us increase the speed of our offense.”

Elena Melendez - Melendez teamed with Stephens to form a potent 1-2 attack from the outside. She finished second on the team with 245 kills and was also a great backrow player with 428 digs.

“Elena is a great backrow player,” Lebeda-Svehla said. “She brought a high intensity on defense and passing. Teams would serve away from her because she was very reliable.”

Raegan LeGrand - The sophomore was a key figure on the 2012 Class A state title team as starting libero before taking on an even bigger role in her sophomore campaign as an outside hitter.

LeGrand led the Titans with 354 kills and was still a stalwart on the defensive end, coming up with a team-best 310 digs.

“Raegan is a fighter,” first-year Titan coach Elena Pietro said. “She has an immeasurable amount of heart and love for the game. These qualities made her one of our team’s top players and strongest leaders.”

Adyson Goodnight - Despite missing part of the season with an injury, Goodnight was a dominant force in the middle for the Titans.

She finished with 193 kills while leading the team with 65 blocks. The South Florida recruit also showed her proficiency in serving as she led the squad with 48 aces.

“Adyson has so much talent and was a huge part of our offense and defense at the net,” Pietro said. “She’s a natural and is only just beginning to tap into her abilities. I can’t wait to see how much she evolves playing D-I ball.”

Katie Imig - The junior emerged as one of the top libero’s in the state as she led the Thunderbirds with 566 digs. She also tied for the team lead with 34 ace serves.

“We noticed right away Katie’s ability to be a great passer but we have been so impressed with the other intangible qualities that make her a true libero,” West coach Sara Bayer said. “She harbors the physical qualities of passing and also the leadership from the backrow that helped our entire team be successful.”

Sage Meyer - Meyer emerged as a dominant hitter for the T-birds. The junior outside attacker paced the team with 369 kills and was second with 24 blocks. She displayed her all-around ability by coming up with 243 digs (second on the team) and tied for the team lead with 34 ace serves.

“Sage has blossomed into a dominant “go to” kind of player that we had to have on the court to be successful,” Bayer said. “This year, Sage not only impressed us with her hitting ability but also her defensive mentality of digging and blocking. She’s becoming a great all-round volleyball player.”

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