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Lorenz, FDLTCC back at volleyball

CLOQUET—Sam Lorenz didn’t play volleyball her senior year at Cloquet High School as she focused her time looking at colleges — in particular, Colorado State University.

Now several states, nearly 16 hours and 1,050 miles closer to home, the 18-year-old Lorenz has returned to the hardwood hitting volleyballs and enjoying the sport she loves.

Lorenz rejoins the game just as the program at Fond du Lac Tribal and Community College makes a comeback. The Thunder, which began its inaugural program in 2009, had to cancel all of last season due to the lack of numbers for a team.

This year’s team, again led by head and assistant coaches Laura Sylvester and Loran Wappes, is all freshmen. Lorenz is one of nine first-year players on the roster, just happy to be back at it.

“I love it, it’s so much fun,” said Lorenz outside of the gym last Thursday. “I started [volleyball] in sixth-grade when I was 11. I just like playing and working with a team. I didn’t think I’d play [again], but I got to stay and I’m real excited.”

Lorenz said the Fort Collins, Colo., campus was “gorgeous,” but simply was too much financially to attend. Although a hard decision to make, the 5-foot-10 middle hitter soon after told Sylvester and Wappes she wanted to join the Thunder.

Both Sylvester and Wappes have coached Lorenz during the past several Junior Olympic seasons within the Northland Volleyball Club and are delighted to continue that connection.

“Every time you watch her you can tell she loves the game,” said Sylvester. “It was a wonderful day when I saw her in the hall. Those are the people we enjoy being around — ones who are excited about the game and happy to be here.”

Sylvester was a middle hitter in high school and has been working well with Lorenz. Wappes, meanwhile, an avid volleyball player himself and involved with the FDLTCC program in all six of its seasons, is glad to be back coaching.

“It’s tough having no returners and it will be a challenge,” Wappes said, “but the girls have been working hard. It’s been fun to get going here again. It’s nice to be back and playing.”

FDLTCC (0-3) has played three matches thus far, losing them all. However, the roster boasts plenty of local names in Esko’s Holly Wisniewski, Proctor’s Krista Mottonen and Cloquet’s Kasey Shabaiash, Drewrez Budreau and Breanna LaDue.

“We’re still getting the rust off,” admitted Sylvester, whose team’s home opener is at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 9, against Itasca, with more home matches soon after on Sept. 16, 19, 21, 23, 30 and Oct. 4. “But we’re just thrilled to be back.”

As is Lorenz, who knows — for now — volleyball is her thing.

“I want to keep going for as long as I can,” Lorenz said.