Volleyball success spreading
The Minneota volleyball program has been as solid as a giant oak tree for many years. Now it's success is branching off to other programs in the state. Minneota has had a winning record in volleyball for two decades, making numerous state trips along the way.
Former Minneota standout volleyball player Hayley Fruin was a player on the 2006 state championship team and coached her Alma mater to a Class A state championship this past weekend.
Kelsea Anderson, also a former Minneota volleyball player, was the seventh-grade coach at Minneota this fall.
But there are also six other former Minneota players or coaches currently coaching volleyball at other school districts.
Leah Fadness, who has been the Yellow Medicine East varsity head coach the past three years, played on the 2006 state championship team with Fruin.
She also coached against her in a match this season. "As a former teammate of Hayley's, it makes me extremely proud of her," Fadness said. "She has done a tremendous job with the girls this year.
And as a coach in the Camden Conference, it makes me happy to see not only our section, but my hometown come out on top."
Fadness, a 2010 graduate, played on the varsity at Minneota for five seasons as an outside hitter. She earned all-state honors her senior year. Besides the state title in 2006, Fadness won a member of state runners-up teams in 2005 and 2009.
She then went on to play collegiately at Jamestown College in North Dakota.
YME had a solid season this year under Fadness, going 19-6 before falling in the section playoffs to snap a 17-match winning streak. After her season was over, Fadness became a fan of Minneota.
"I think it is super exciting to everyone involved; from the players to the coaches, as well as the school and whole community," said Fadness, when asked about her Alma mater winning a state title.
"As a former player and current Minneota resident, I love to see my hometown do well, especially because I know many of the girls on this year's state championship team were there watching us when we won, as well."
Joe Sussenguth, who coached Minneota from 2001-2005, helped the Vikings earn four state tournament appearances, placing second in 2001 and 2005 and finishing third in 2002 and 2003. Sussenguth moved on to the college ranks, first finding success with Ridgewater College in Willmar for 12 seasons years that included three national championships, six runners-up and one third-place finish.
In his first season at UM-Morris this fall, Sussenguth guided the team to a 24-12 record. Sussenguth coached Fruin as a junior in high school and still stays in touch with her.
"I've known Hayley for a long time," he said. "We still talk regularly. She has such a passion for volleyball and the girls really respect her." Steph Hennen coached volleyball at various levels for over 25 years at Minneota.
She was named the varsity coach in 2008, and led her team to a second-place finish at state in 2009 and placed third in 2010. Hennen has been the head coach at Montevideo the past two seasons.
"I'm incredibly proud and happy for this bunch that won the championship," she said. Taya Kockelman was a starting setter for four seasons (2007-2010) for Minneota and played on two state tournaments teams, finishing second in 2009 and third in 2010.
Kockelman also played four seasons at St. Ben's and then got a job in 2015 as a second-grade teacher and 'B' squad volleyball coach at Redwood Valley. It was thrilling for Kockelman to watch her younger sister Morgan, also a setter, be a part of Minneota's state championship team this past weekend.
"It was super exciting," Taya said. "They have maintained a level of intensity throughout and worked super hard this season. (Winning the state title) wasn't given to them; they earned it."
Molly Hennen got to witness two of her siblings, Morgan (right side hitter) and Abby (libero), capture the state title at Xcel Energy Center this past weekend while helping Paul Raymo as color commentator with KLQP Radio.
"It was really special being there," she said. "They had such a great season. And it was extra special seeing my sisters celebrate.” Hennen graduated from Minneota in 2014 and was a varsity outside hitter for four seasons.
The Vikings made it to state and placed third all four of those years. Formerly the seventh-grade volleyball coach at Minneota, Hennen completed her first season as 'B' squad coach at Lac qui Parle Valley this year, finishing 8-4.
She is a third-grade teacher in Appleton. (See story on Molly in Vikings Pride this week). Megan Larson, a four-year starting setter for Minneota and then for Southwest Minnesota State University, is currently the JV volleyball coach at Jordan. Larson's team posted a 14-7 record this season.
Larson, an all-state setter, was a starter on teams from 2010-13 that finished third at the state tournament each time. "I thought it was super cool that Minneota won," she said. "And it's really cool that Hayley won a state championship and now coached one at the same school."