Prep volleyball: Esko’s Bandelin is All-Area Player of the YearStephanie Bandelin totaled 372 kills and led the Eskomos to the Minnesota Class AA state tournament for a second consecutive year. For her efforts, she is the 2011 News Tribune All-Area Player of the Year.
By: Rick Weegman, Duluth News Tribune
Stephanie Bandelin had a surprise waiting for her when she and her teammates attended the first week of Esko volleyball practice in August.
The team’s star 6-foot-0 outside hitter found out she was being moved inside for her senior season.
“It was hard because I wasn’t used to getting to every block,” she said of a middle hitter’s job. “I felt I had a lot of responsibility, but I took
The position change didn’t affect Bandelin’s game. She totaled 372 kills and led the Eskomos to the Minnesota Class AA state tournament for a second consecutive year. For her efforts, she is the 2011 News Tribune All-Area Player of the Year.
Esko coach Desiree DeLeon was pleased how Bandelin handled her new role.
“The two middle players get more tired because they are involved in every single play,” DeLeon said. “When you are normally an outside, you only have to block (when the kill attempt) is on your side and sometimes in the middle. Plus the speed of the game changes, too.
“It’s a big transition, and I thought she did a really good job and kept a good attitude. Sometimes when you make that switch, you might say, ‘This isn’t where I want to be.’ But she did not have a bad attitude.”
Bandelin plays outside on the Minnesota North Junior Olympic team, and likely will be in that spot next year when she attends Division II St. Cloud State.
“That’s talent to be able to go from one position to the other and be able to succeed at both,” Minnesota North coach Christyn May said. “She’s set herself apart from many others in this area with that ability. You just can’t stick a middle on the outside or an outside in the middle and still get the numbers and perform the way she did.”
May, a Minnesota Duluth assistant coach, likes the way Bandelin fits in on a team loaded with the Northland’s top players.
“She’s the quiet, steady leader,” May said. “She’s on a team with kids like Elena Lushine (of Duluth East) and Stefanie Siroin from Washburn that get a lot of attention. She’s super athletic, has a very high vertical and absolutely annihilates the ball when she gets a hold of it.”
DeLeon believes her pupil will excel at the next level.
“She has the right mindset to play college volleyball,” she said. “I’ve never heard her say, ‘Oh, I’m sick of it’ or ‘I’m burned out’ or anything like that, which sometimes happens to kids.”
Both coaches also were impressed with Bandelin’s improvement in the back row, a crucial element in receiving more playing time at the collegiate level.
“She’s put herself in a very good position to be a six-rotation outside hitter,” May said. “She’s worked very hard to improve the little things.”
Bandelin, who plays basketball on one of the area’s top teams and runs track in the spring, isn’t concerned about such matters right now. She looks back fondly at the season, highlighted by a Section 7AA semifinal come-from-behind victory over Hibbing and a five-game marathon against Visitation in a state consolation match.
“Hibbing felt more like the section final than Mora did because it was so intense. In the fifth game, when we were down (13-8), everybody thought we were going to lose,” said Bandelin, who had 27 kills in the Visitation win, Esko’s first in the state tournament in school history. “Going back to state was so much fun, and I’m really glad we won (a match) down there.”