Highland High School incoming junior Claire Diercks just put the finishing touches on a widely successful club volleyball season while playing up an age level as the second middle hitter with the High Performance STL G17 IL Elite team.
Diercks’ HPSTL G17 IL Elite team competed in 10 tournaments, with five of them being open qualifiers for Nationals. The squad just wrapped up its season at the United States of America Volleyball Girls Junior National Championships June 30-July 3 in Minneapolis, Minnesota, where they finished tied for 13th place in their national division and placed 49th overall in the nation.
Diercks said some of her team’s best tournaments were:
▪ a fifth-place finish in the Gateway League
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▪ second place in the High Performance 18s event
▪ seventh place in the open division of the Mid East Qualifier
▪ ninth place in the open division of the Southern California Volleyball Qualifier in Las Vegas
▪ first place in the Gateway Region Bid Event, which earned the team their national bid
“This club season was a very big one with my team, the IL HPSTL 17 Elite,” Diercks said. “I feel my team accomplished a lot this season, as individuals and as a team, with the help of our coaches, Abby Hanger and David Owens, who always pushed us and helped us get ready for Nationals and college-level play. It was a fun learning experience with new teammates who knew how to get the job done when game time came. One of my favorite memories was earning our bid to Nationals, as it was my first time.”
Now for Diercks, the high school season is approaching fast, as official practices begin Aug. 9.
Diercks said she has made big strides during the club season, and those improvements should help her to be stronger for her junior season this fall at Highland High School, which will be under the direction of new coach Katelyn (Kombrink) Hagarty, a former standout at O’Fallon High.
“School season is right around the corner, and I am very excited to get back in the gym with the Highland girls,” she said. “Throughout the club season, I have grown a lot in becoming a better player by improving my blocking, hitting and jump serve, and I am ready to put it all to use my junior year.”
Diercks knows that the mental game in volleyball is also crucial to a team’s success, adding team members must all pull together to achieve their goals.
“My mentality focuses on working together as a team, doing my best every opportunity I have, and winning,” she said. “I’ve definitely matured a lot with the many new challenges that come my way every club season, but especially this season, with an older age group and playing in open qualifiers.”