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Yellowjackets volleyball team improved, but faces tough road ahead

Keely Deadrick said she received some athletic scholarship interest from NCAA Division II colleges coming out of Esko in 2011, but most of that was from places far away.

Keely Deadrick said she received some athletic scholarship interest from NCAA Division II colleges coming out of Esko in 2011, but most of that was from places far away.

That narrowed her options to the smaller, more affordable Wisconsin public colleges closer to home, and ultimately, landed her at Wisconsin-Superior, where her mother, Lynne Deadrick, is the volleyball coach.

"I figured I could either play for my mom or against mom," Keely Deadrick said. "I chose to play for her, and it's been a good decision. I really like it here."

Keely Deadrick has helped UWS become more competitive in her three years as the team's setter, but the Yellowjackets probably still have a ways to go before they're going to compete for a Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference title.

UWS opened conference play at home on Wednesday with a 25-23, 25-22, 25-20 loss to Wisconsin-River Falls before a vocal crowd of about 200 at Mertz Mortorelli Gymnasium.

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At 10-3, the Yellowjackets are tied with the 1996 team for the second best start in school history. The best start in school history occurred in 1995, when UWS started 17-2 and finished 24-9. Even so, the Yellowjackets went only 4-4 in the WIAC, good for sixth.

"The WIAC is so tough, but we just didn't come out and play like we needed to," Lynne Deadrick said. "We need to stay disciplined and together, but we just put ourselves in too deep of holes. We've got a lot of fighters on this team, and they're great at responding, but you can't keep putting yourselves in that position. We were just a little off."

The first set is the one the Yellowjackets would like back. UWS controlled the action and led 9-4 before River Falls (10-4) chipped back into it. Still, the Yellowjackets led 22-20 late in the set, but couldn't finish it in falling 25-23.

The second set found them trailing 13-3 and 22-13 before rattling off seven straight points to make it interesting, only to fall 25-22. UWS trailed 8-1 in the third set before falling 25-20.

"We had our comeback, but we were just down too far," Keely Deadrick said.

River Falls played a trio 6-footers compared to one for UWS in senior Brooke Vonasek.

"The block can change the momentum, and River Falls was very good at it," Lynne Deadrick said. "We picked things up defensively in the third set, but overall, we just didn't play the way we're capable of. I don't know if it was home jitters, but it was great to see the support. I hope they come back because we really are a better team than we showed."

Brianna Muetzel had nine kills to lead River Falls while junior Alissa Autio of Floodwood had 10 to lead UWS and Vonasek added nine.

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Seniors Lauren Peterson (12 digs) and Jessica Zimmerman (10 digs) led the defense, while Keely Deadrick paced the offense with 31 set assists.

"Our advantage was our blockers," River Falls coach Patti Ford said. "Deadrick is an excellent setter, and they've got some very good hitters and defensive players. They made us earn every point we got."

That has been a theme since Keely Deadrick arrived in 2011.

UWS had gone 9-27 in 2010 but rebounded to go 16-17 in 2011 and 19-14 last year, but just 2-6 in conference play.

Keely Deadrick was a standout in basketball and volleyball at Esko and initially played both sports for the Yellowjackets.

"Basketball was a lot of fun and I loved meeting all the girls, but it was just too busy," Deadrick said.

Deadrick chose UWS knowing the school's elementary education program is strong and that she could play sports. Like her mother, she hopes to coach one day.

"That's the plan," Deadrick said.

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Another reason she chose UWS was because it's close to home, and almost like home to the Deadricks. Keely's father, Shane, is a UWS admissions counselor. He was in attendance on Wednesday with the rest of the family, Keely's older sister, Kayla, and younger brother, Kory.

UWS is at Wisconsin-Eau Claire on Friday, the first of three road matches, before returning home on Sept. 27 for matches against Lakehead (4 p.m.) and Finlandia (7 p.m.).

"So far this year has been going really well," Keely Deadrick said. "We started off the year great in Texas, and we know the conference schedule is going to be tough, but that's good. It's fun competition. We've had fun playing hard and playing together, and now I can't wait for the next match."

Related Topics: SUPERIOR
Jon Nowacki joined the News Tribune in August 1998 as a sports reporter. He grew up in Stephen, Minnesota, in the northwest corner of the state, where he was actively involved in school and sports and was a proud member of the Tigers’ 1992 state championship nine-man football team.

After graduating in 1993, Nowacki majored in print journalism at the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, serving as editor of the college paper, “The Aquin,” and graduating with honors in December 1997. He worked with the Associated Press during the “tobacco trial” of 1998, leading to the industry’s historic $206 billion settlement, before moving to Duluth.

Nowacki started as a prep reporter for the News Tribune before moving onto the college ranks, with an emphasis on Minnesota Duluth football, including coverage of the Bulldogs’ NCAA Division II championships in 2008 and 2010.

Nowacki continues to focus on college sports while filling in as a backup on preps, especially at tournament time. He covers the Duluth Huskies baseball team and auto racing in the summer. When time allows, he also writes an offbeat and lighthearted food column entitled “The Taco Stand,” a reference to the “Taco Jon” nickname given to him by his older brother when he was a teenager that stuck with him through college. He has a teenage daughter, Emma.

Nowacki can be reached at jnowacki@duluthnews.com or (218) 380-7027. Follow him on Twitter @TacoJon1.
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