What a great first year for the Midwest Battle. The best collection of volleyball talent ever assembled in South Dakota and names the volleyball nation will hear from for years. Too stand out in that environment is no small task. We found 12 athletes whose name came up OFTEN in conversations. The stars of the Battle.
Taylor Byl, MB, Team South Dakota Hecht, Sioux Falls Christian
Byl is considered by many to be one of the more underrated players in South Dakota, even on a powerhouse Christian team, and she showed why at the Midwest Battle. She was mighty on her spikes and blocked a lot of balls from some of the best hitters in the Midwest. Whenever she was in the game, she impacted it.
Payton Petersen, OH, Team Iowa, Dike-New Hartford
Petersen is the top 2024 prospect in Iowa, and she completely took that leadership role on Team Iowa. Iowa nearly won the Battle, and she was a big reason why. Petersen’s power arm was evident in the night matches and Romano just kept feeding her, which worked out as Iowa kept winning plays when it mattered.
Abbey Hayes, OH, Team Iowa, North Scott
Hayes, a recent Creighton commit, came into this as one of the younger players at the Battle, but she did not play like it. Hayes is a competitor and her athleticism showed in a gym full of athletes. Abbey found multiple ways to score on the Outside, earning herself many kills on the other side of Peyton Petersen. She played like she would get a kill every time she went up, and she nearly did. Very impressive from the North Scott Hitter.
Camdyn Stucky, S, Team Kansas, Maize South
The Tennessee commit was fantastic in Sioux Falls. Her quiet confident nature fit the Kansas mold perfectly. She got the timing down with the rest of the Kansas hitters early and kept them in this competition. Stucky was an attacking threat also and her swings resulted in way more kills than tips. Stucky’s court vision was evident as she found holes in defenses cheating toward the Team Kansas attackers. Stucky showed why she was a top setter in this competition and made Kansas a dominant offensive team.
Ashlyn Paymal, Right Side, Team Nebraska, Omaha Burke
Paymal is the first of many Team Nebraska players on this list. Nebraska started this competition slowly but came back, and there were many reasons. One was because of Paymal. Paymal showed why she is a Big East commit with her intuition on the court. She has a variety of shots and used them at the right times. Her athleticism surprised us and she put up the best block of any OH/OPP in the gym.
Kenzie Dean, OH, Team Iowa, Dowling Catholic
We didn’t give an MVP, but Kenzie would have been a front-runner. She was unstoppable attacking from the behind the 10-ft line, scoring often. Dean was one of the premier faces we were excited to watch here, and she was impressive playing a lot of back row for Iowa. She did an outstanding job adjusting and digging balls while also putting them in an incredible position to get a chance at a kill. May have had the best all-around game in Sioux Falls Sunday night.
Cora Hokenstad, Libero, Team South Dakota Groft, Sioux Falls Jefferson
We had talented Liberos at this event, including multiple Big 10 commits, but none might have been more impressive than Hokenstad. The Jefferson libero was incredible for Team Groft in the matches, which allowed Groft to make a bit of a comeback in the standings. She was really fast and quick and impressed a lot of us in the LIbero drill.
Logan Parks, Setter, Team Kansas, Blue Valley North
Logan did what Logan does….opened eyes with her game and not her voice. The quiet super star was equally effective Setting and on the RS. Several local fans came up to us and said “who is #14 for Kansas”. She made the setting look simple and would consistently match Stucky in her ability to set teammates up for kills, which is why she made the list. She was amazing and showed why she will be a top commit in 2025.
Peyton Saxlund, OH, Team North Dakota Titus, WF Sheyenne
Saxlund was the youngest player in this, graduating in 2027, which makes it all the more impressive she was the only North Dakota player on this list. When she was in the match, she kept the underdog North Dakota teams in the game. North Dakota was playing incredibly well, and she was a big reason why. She had some great spikes against teams like Iowa and SD Schroeder and had amazing energy.
Carly Ries, RS, Team Nebraska, Norfolk High
We hadn’t been able to watch Ries as much during the past club season and man we wish we would have. First of all she played arguably as tall as anyone in the Battle. Nebraska had multiple weapons, but when they went Ries’ direction she capitalized. She was someone you noticed making plays several courts away. She stood out. Ries will be a welcome addition in Vermillion in a year.
Mia Tvrdy, MB, Team Nebraska, Papio LaVista
Tvrdy was the other half of the middle tandem on Team Nebraska, and similar to Bode, her athleticism really showed and we saw that range that she has. She will be a big part of the Pac-12 in a couple years. Tvrdy clicked with her new Setter and their quick attacks were both beautiful and lethal. Mia showed her combination of quick twitch explosion and power. She was everything she was advertised to be.
Madison Burr, OH, Team Minnesota, Cannon Falls
Some athletes come in with big reputations and then some EARN it. Madison Burr was a leader, a force and energy giver from start to finish for Tem Minnesota. She quickly gelled with Setter Stella Swenson. Burr might have been the best player in the entire event and she stood out to our entire staff. She had four kills in a row in one game vs Team North Dakota Nagowski. She truly raised the bar for Minnesota and gave them a chance. She had incredible hops and looked the part of a D1 RS, and could end up being a recruiting steal by the SDSU staff.