By Bret Hayworth
As the 2022 high school volleyball season has begun, there are many tall and nimble middle blockers in the Hawkeye State who will pound opponent balls back across the court.
Note: There are many talented volleyball players in Iowa and this list is not intended to be comprehensive. Let us know about other players you think should be added.
Sophia Armstrong, West Burlington, Senior: Armstrong strong armed 117 blocks, which placed her third among all Iowa prep players in 2021. She also had 372 kills and hit an impressive .432 efficiency.
Kennedy Axmear, English Valleys, Junior: As a sophomore, Axmear led the state with 87 solo blocks and was second with 124 total blocks, positioning her to be a player to watch again in 2022.
Bliss Beck, Clear Creek-Amana, Junior: Beck earned Class 3A All-State honors, after amassing 92 blocks in 2021 as a sophomore on a team with a 27-12 record. She also had 306 kills, 61 digs and hit at .332 efficiency.
Maryn Bixby, Dike-New Hartford, Junior: Bixby is among several key returning performers for the 2022 Class 2A returning state champion D-NH. She had 89 blocks as a sophomore, plus hit at .283 and had 123 kills for the 54-1 Wolverines.
Marissa Cahoy, New Hampton, Junior: She was a Class 3A All-Stater, playing at 5-11 height for the Chickasaws team that went 24-11. Cahoy hit with .289 efficiency, and also putting forth 294 kills and 125 digs.
Chloe Cline, Pleasant Valley, Senior: Cline was an all-state team member for the PV team that won the 2021 Class 5A state championship, with a 33-4 record to take the program’s first ever title. Standing 6-1, she had 72 blocks, 253 kills and hit .330 percent as a junior.
Megan Cooley, Gladbrook-Reinbeck, Senior: A 6-0 blocker, she was a Class 1A All-Stater for the 11th ranked team that finished with a 29-14 record. Cooley over her junior year totalled 277 digs, 276 kills, 72 blocks and hit with .368 efficiency.
Gabby Deery, Burlington Notre Dame, Senior: Deery, 6-2, was a Class 1A First Team All-State selection and a key member of the 2021 championship team. She has committed to play at the University of Iowa. Deery last year had 47 blocks, 466 kills, 64 service aces and hit at .294 efficiency.
Hannah Ditsworth, Bondurant-Farrar, Senior: She had 103 blocks, for 12th among Iowa prep players overall, for the Bondurant-Farrar team that rang up a 32-8 record to finish in the Class 4A Top 10 regular season poll. Ditsworth also had 247 blocks and 58 digs.
Michaela Goad, Marion, Junior: Goad was one of the top sophomore blockers in Iowa, tallying 90 blocks as Marion earned a Class 4A state tourney berth with 36 wins in 2021. Goad also had 84 digs in a season in which she earned WaMaC All Conference honors.
Azaria Green, Council Bluffs Lincoln, Senior: Green is on a Class 5A team poised for growth, as she is one of a handful of polished returning players. Green racked up 256 kills, 100 blocks and hit at .355 last year for Lincoln.
Ella Groenewold, Mid-Prairie, Senior: Goenewold as a junior had 106 blocks to place her 10th among all Iowa prep players, during the Golden Hawks season with a 16-14 record. She also hit at .396 and accumulated 212 kills on the court.
Cassidy Hartman, Iowa City Liberty, Senior; Hartman was a 2021 Elite All-Stater, making her a top blocker in the state. She has committed to play collegiately at the University of Western Illinois. Last year in Class 5A play, Hartman had 423 kills, 400 digs, and 48 blocks.
Kylie Hoben, Grand View Christian, Senior: As a junior Hoben provided a solid year with 268 kills, 72 blocks and hit at .288 efficiency for Grand View Christian.
Dani Kurth, Dubuque Hempstead, Senior: As Hempstead seeks to nab a winning record after a 16-17 season in 2021, Kurth will be an important player. She had 67 solo blocks among her 99 total blocks, and also put down 147 kills as a 6-0 middle blocker. Kurth will play in college for Truman (Mo. State.
Libby Lansing, Epworth Western Dubuque, Senior: Lansing was a Class 4A All-Stater for the state champion team. Playing at 6-0 height, she had nine kills in the championship match, and for the full season amassed 236 kills and 89 blocks for the season, hitting at an impressive .461 efficiency, which ranked second in the state.
Maren Miller, Des Moines Christian, Senior: Miller led the entire state in all classes with a .474 hitting efficiency, as the team qualified for the Class 3A state tourney field with 36 wins. Miller also aided the team with her 189 kills and 78 blocks.
Kinsey Mohlwinkle, Aplington-Parkersburg, Junior: She impressed as a sophomore, amassing 111 blocks to place fifth among all the state’s players. Mohlwinkle stands 5-11, and also had 229 kills and hit at .282 for the A-P Falcons, a team that finished 23-12.
Grace Nelson, Sioux City Bishop Heelan, Senior: Heelan was a 20-win and state qualifying team in Class 4A in part due to the exploits of Nelson, who was third in the state with 117 blocks. Nelson rounded out her game by adding 145 kills.
Kaden Payne, Sidney, Senior: Payne has been a four year starter for the Cowgirls, and as a junior had 314 kills from the middle hitter position. She also had 46 blocks and hit at .287 efficiency.
Carly Puffer, Wilton, Senior: Wilton had 36 wins to be seeded second in the 2021 Class 2A state field, in a season where Puffer had 297 kills. She will go to college at Cornell College in Iowa, and comes off a junior season where she hit at a high .430 efficiency.
Aowyn Schrader, Ankeny, Junior: Standing 6-1, Schrader was a Class 5A All-Stater for the team that was the No,3 seed in the 2021 state tourney. She hit at .316 efficiency, had 48 blocks and 310 kills for the Hawks.
Natalie See, Waterloo East, Senior: See put back 67 solo blocks to place third among all players in 2021, as part of her 74 total blocks. Playing at 5-11 height, See hit at .267 efficiency for the Class 5A Waterloo East team.
Berlin Troendle, Waukon, Senior: Troendle, at 6-0 height, finished among the top 60 players in all classes with 334 kills for the Waukon squad playing a mostly Class 3A schedule. She also had 48 blocks and hit at .287 percent efficiency.
Avery Weichers, Waverly-Shell Rock, Senior: Weichers helped the team produce a Class 4A tourney runner up finish in 2021 with her 6-2 height presence at the net. She had 272 kills and hit at .385 efficiency.