MV/P's Karst named Daily Republic volleyball player of the year

PLANKINTON -- Pressure is the downfall of some athletes, but it is Makaela Karst's ally. "I enjoy pressure," the 6-foot junior outside hitter at Mount Vernon/Plankinton said. "I think it helps push me to be better than I already am." When the sta...

Mount Vernon/Plankinton's Makaela Karst is The Daily Republic's volleyball player of the year. (Matt Gade/Republic)

PLANKINTON -- Pressure is the downfall of some athletes, but it is Makaela Karst's ally.

"I enjoy pressure," the 6-foot junior outside hitter at Mount Vernon/Plankinton said. "I think it helps push me to be better than I already am."

When the stakes were high this season, Karst responded in a big way for her team. She helped lead the Titans past longtime Class A powerhouse Wagner in the regional championship, as MV/P edged the Red Raiders by two points in the fifth set.

With a state championship berth on the line, the pressure that's felt in a fifth set doesn't get much higher. Yet, Karst thrived when her teammates needed her to.

"My coaches expect more of me, that makes me give them more," she said. "I think that it helps knowing that people count on me to get something done."


Her big-game success didn't stop at the state tournament. Karst was instrumental in the Titans' 3-0 win over Lead-Deadwood in the first round and in the semifinal match against Miller. Karst recorded a double-double with 18 kills and 22 digs in the semifinal loss. That performance helped earn her all-tournament honors.

"When we played Miller, she had a big game for us by being a leader and her stats," Mount Vernon/Plankinton's head coach, Darcy Deinert, said. "She brings more than just the stats for the team. She relaxes the kids and knows how to talk to people. It's hard to explain, but she's a very calming person."

Karst's calming influence under stress led the Titans to a fourth-place finish in the Class A state tournament and gave Karst an all-tournament selection.

Karst's statistics in 2014 were impressive. The junior tallied 292 kills, 294 digs, 49 aces and converted 91 percent of her serving attempts.

For her leadership and performance in big games, Karst has been named The Daily Republic's volleyball player of the year. The award is given annually and is voted on by the three members of the newspaper's sports staff. The winner is determined by a points system that awards five points for each first-place vote. All players in The Daily Republic's coverage area are considered and the voting is based on individual and team success.

Karst garnered two of the three first-place votes and 14 of a possible 15 points.

Wagner's Brooklyn Tolliver was a close second in the voting, picking up 13 points and the other first-place vote. Other players receiving votes this year were Hanson's Katlyn Schroeder, Kimball/White Lake's Haley Pazour and Kelli Steffen, Bon Homme's Alie Adams, Karst's teammate Mikayla Weiss and Ethan's Darbi Gustafson and Wagner's Emily Brunsing.

Karst's journey to becoming a strong leader for MV/P began in middle school when she was a watergirl for the then-Plankinton Pirates. She spent two years watching the varsity squad, and immediately became inspired to take up the sport.


"I started playing in the seventh grade," she said. "I always watched. I was the watergirl as a fifth- and sixth-grader. I looked up to (the players), and I thought that was kind of cool."

Now Karst has numerous children looking up to her. Deinert described Karst as a leader whom her teammates respect.

"She's really good with her teammates, and if something needs to be explained, she's really good at helping out," Deinert said. "I called her a little bit of a teacher for the younger kids. She's really respectful and just a nice young lady. She's good off the court, good on the court and she's very helpful."

Reaching the Class A state tournament didn't come to fruition the way that Karst expected. In her freshman year of high school, Plankinton joined former arch rival Mount Vernon to form a co-op.

"At first, it was kind of weird," Karst said. "The first practice my freshman year, I showed up and I was kind of standing there like, 'Oh hey, we don't know any of you guys.' But I think within the first week or two, we all clicked and got along really well."

While the name on her jersey now reads Titans instead of Pirates, Karst is proud that she was able to bring success to the team she grew up watching.

"(Reaching the state tournament) is everyone's dream starting out," Karst said. "Getting there is an amazing accomplishment. Finishing fourth in the state, that's really cool."

While the year was a successful one for Karst and the Titans, she already has her eyes set on next season. MV/P returns a plethora of key players, including Megan Bultsma, Weiss and Ivy Haines, in addition to Karst.


The expectations will be high, and Karst and the Titans are ready to live up to them.

"I think that now we know what our jobs are," Karst said. "We have people coming up because of the seniors that we lost, and we'll need to help them get through it. That's something that I can do, too. I have lot more (expectations for next year), that's for sure. We know what's expected of us."

After high school

It's no secret 2015 will be a big year for Karst. Not only will she expand on her already large leadership role, she must make difficult choices off the court, such as where to attend college.

Furthermore, she'll have to decide what sport she will play at the next level, as Karst also plays on the basketball team at MV/P. She says she is leaning toward playing volleyball in college.

"This summer I worked really hard, I went to camps, I did some things and programs to help get me stronger," she said. "I think that's a goal of mine, is to reach the next level and play in college."

During her camps in the summer, Karst worked on becoming a more consistent player. The results seemed to pay off, as Deinert called Karst the most consistent player on the Titans roster. It's a characteristic Karst takes pride in.

"I think that I'm consistent and that my teammates can always count on me," she said. "I've worked hard on knowing when I have to swing hard and when I have to just get it over the net."


While no colleges have contacted her about volleyball yet, Deinert said college coaches will soon realize what attributes Karst can bring to a team.

"She's definitely going to be able to play at the next level," Deinert said. "She was asked to do more than what she had before this year, and she just took over. The little things seem kind of small, but she has changed her range."

Her coach said some of Karst's skills include being able to locate the ball in many different places instead of just hitting it. She can place the ball and pass it to a target, Deinert added.

"Her serve is phenomenal, it's hard to return because it has kind of a float on it," she said. "She just took her role and took it up so much this year that I just can't imagine she's going to stop."

Here is a look at the other players who received votes, with the point totals in parentheses:

• Tolliver (13): The senior outside hitter helped lead Wagner to the Region 5A final, but the Red Raiders fell just short of a state berth, losing 3-2 to MV/P. The 5-foot-7 athlete recorded 499 digs, 133 kills, 102 assists and 13 blocks.

• Weiss (6): Just like Karst, Weiss will return to the Titans next season. The junior setter tallied 688 assists, 66 aces and 258 digs.

• Schroeder (5): The 5-foot-9 senior middle hitter had a big year for the Beavers, as she helped guide Hanson to a 21-5 regular-season record. Schroeder had 274 kills, 190 digs and 36 aces this season.


• Pazour (4): Kimball/White Lake was able to reach the Class B state tournament for the second straight season, largely in part to Pazour's efforts. The senior outside hitter recorded 269 kills and 277 digs for the WiLdKats, who took sixth at state.

• Brunsing (1): The junior middle blocker led the Red Raider attack with 352 kills on the season. She added 86 blocks and 79 digs.

• Steffen (1): The WiLdKats benefited from the consistent play of Steffen throughout the season. The 5-foot-8 senior middle hitter helped lead Kimball/White Lake's state tournament run with 203 kills, 43 blocks and 286 digs in 2014.

• Adams (1): Racking up assists seemed all too easy for the Bon Homme junior. She tallied 847 assists and 66 aces for the Cavaliers, who finished 18-10 this season.

• Gustafson (1): Ethan defeated Hanson 3-1 in the District 8B title before falling in the Region 4B championship 3-0 to Chester Area with the help of Gustafson. The senior middle hitter assisted the Rustlers with 235 kills, 73 blocks and 28 aces this season.

Past players of the year

2001 --Marcy Jacobsen, Mitchell

2002 -- Chelaine Knudsen, Andes Central


2002 -- Chelsey Miller, Mitchell

Note: 2002 season switch

2003 -- Katrina Brooks, Andes Central

2004 -- Gina Baldwin, Mitchell

2005 -- Kelli Fiegen, Parkston

2006 -- Jena Doom, Wagner

2007 -- Kelli Fiegen, Parkston

2008 -- Keaya Weber, Wagner

2009 -- Jilanne Doom, Wagner

2010 -- Charlee Nelson, Mitchell

2011 -- Dana Misiaszek, Mitchell

2012 -- Taylin Alm, Mitchell

2013 -- Anna Flitner, Lyman

2014 -- Makaela Karst, Mount Vernon/Plankinton

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