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Ely volleyball players named All- Conference

Keith Vandervort
Posted 1/13/21

ELY - The Memorial High School volleyball team celebrated an unbeaten season that resulted in a conference championship. All-conference recognition for three Timberwolves added icing to the …

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Ely volleyball players named All- Conference

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ELY - The Memorial High School volleyball team celebrated an unbeaten season that resulted in a conference championship. All-conference recognition for three Timberwolves added icing to the cake.
Senior McKenna Coughlin, junior Kellen Thomas and sophomore Rachel Coughlin all won spots on the All-Arrowhead Conference Team, as selected by league coaches.
All-conference teams are named every year in numerous sports (football, boys and girls basketball, volleyball, baseball) and some other sports (swimming) have all-section teams. “These are picked by coaches in the various sports and it’s always a nice recognition for our athletes when they are selected,” said ISD 696 Athletic Director Tom Coombe.
The Timberwolves’ first-ever unbeaten season was cut short because of the COVID-19 pandemic, and was the program’s first Arrowhead Conference title.
McKenna Coughlin led the team with 144 kills, 85 digs, and 35 ace serves.
“She plays the game with a lot of passion and has high expectations for herself on the court,” said Head Coach Andrea Thomas.  “She’s always worked hard, and she is very dedicated to the sport. She led the team on and off the floor as team captain. McKenna is able to read the defense and place balls in open positions.  She was a dynamic force on the front line.”
McKenna was the T-Wolves’ only returning starter from teams that reached the Section 7A final four the previous two years, according to Coombe.
Kellen Thomas moved into Ely’s starting lineup this fall, racking up 56 kills, 64 digs and 22 blocks.
”Kellen has great ball control.  She was one of our most consistent passers and has a solid serve-receive,” Thomas said. “She is a quiet player who leads more by actions than words.  She is a tough defender as well as an offensive threat.  Kellen became a more integral part of the offense as the season progressed. She also helped us put up a solid block.”
The Timberwolves took to the floor this season with three Coughlin sisters on the floor, senior McKenna and twin sophomores Rachel and Kate. Rachel won all-conference honors with 113 kills, 81 digs and 23 blocks.
“Rachel is a solid all-around player who has quick hops and hits a heavy ball,” Thomas said. “We could count on Rachel to put the ball on the floor no matter where the set was placed. Her anticipation in the back row made her a great defender as well.  Rachel also has a very effective jump serve and ended the season with 24 ace serves.”
The Timberwolves finished atop the Arrowhead Conference with a 12-0 record but did not get a chance at a postseason run, with the pandemic forcing the season to a halt on Nov. 20, a week prior to the end of the regular season.
“Ely was ranked second among 7A teams behind only unbeaten Greenway,” Coombe added. “I want to also note that Ely’s Megan Wognum was named assistant coach of the year for Section 7A volleyball.   This also is a coaches’ association award.”
The All-Arrowhead team also included two players from Northeast Range High School in Babbitt, Hannah Reichensperger and Maizy Sunblad. Reichensperger, a junior, recently signed a letter of intent to attend NCAA Division I Illinois State, according to Coombe.
Here is the list of the entire Arrowhead Conference Volleyball All-Conference Award recipients:
• Ely: McKenna Coughlin, Rachel Coughlin, Kellen Thomas
• Mesabi East: Aaliyah Sahr, Stephanie Zimmer, Lindsey Baribeau
• Cherry: Courteney Sadjak, Lauren Staples
• NER: Hannah Reichensperger, Maizy Sunblad
• Eveleth-Gilbert: Afton Roberts
• MIB: Paris Pontinen
• North Woods: Morgan Burnett
• Littlefork-Big Falls: Destiny Piekarski
• International Falls: Gracie Swenson.

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