Mollee Gruszynski
Mollee Gruszynski
The Northern Lakes Conference (NLC) announced its postseason award winners this past week, honoring those individuals who earned All-NLC First and Second Team as well as Honorable Mention.

After capturing the first league title since 1997, the Three Lakes girls volleyball team had four individuals who earned postseason awards following a 31-10 overall season for coach Jayme Wyss.

Earning First Team All-NLC honors were juniors Mollee Gruszynski and Emily Fink along with sophomore setter Kara Sowinski.

They were joined on the First Team by Katie Slowik of Elcho, Katelyn Nelson of Goodman-Pembine, Elizabeth Krawze, Kelly Boor and 2019 Player of the Year Sydney Rabe of Laona-Wabeno.

Gruszynski served as a captain for Wyss and the Bluejays squad this season, and was an “all-around player” in every sense of the word according to her coach.

“She is not only the leader on the team, but also carries the heart of the team,” said Wyss.

Gruszynski’s 278 kills were tops and easily above her 186 kills from a year ago. Together with 77 from her freshman year she will head into her senior season with 541 kills for her career.

Her 62 service aces on the year were second only to Sowinski, who posted 65. She did so by putting a team-high 97% of her serves in play. With 262 digs she also ranked tops on the Bluejays squad, just ahead of Sowinski who had 255 and Natalie Hicks who had 253.

Sowinski’s First Team honors were deserved, according to Wyss. After leading the team with 774 assists on the year, she’s already eclipsed the 1,000 mark for her career and with two years left to go will anchor the setter position for the Bluejays.

“Setters tend to not get a lot of attention, but they are the ones that make the hitters look good,” said Wyss. “By the time she is done at Three Lakes, I would dare to say that she will be leaving as one of the very best setters Three Lakes has ever had.”

Fink also turned in a solid year at the net for the Bluejays and was rewarded with First Team honors.

The junior was a defensive matchup nightmare for opposing coaches due to her quickness and ability to elevate above the net, said Wyss.

“She was a force to be reckoned with in the front row,” said Wyss. “When she is on, she can be terrifying to be against.”

Fink’s 240 kills ranked behind only Gruszynski while her 29% kill ratio was tops on the team. So too were her 71 blocks on the season, which was just in front of sophomore Mari Szews who had 45.

Szews was a bit of surprise this season for Wyss and the Three Lakes squad as her first season at the varsity level set the stage for what will be a solid career moving forward, said Wyss.

“I have been impressed with how far she came in one season,” said Wyss. “And I think we may have only seen the tip of the iceberg when it comes to Mari’s potential. As she gets more experience under her belt I think she will really take it to the next level. I predict we will see big things more consistently coming from her.”

For Wyss the reflection on the season leaves a lasting feeling of succes. Being able to have claimed the first league title in 22 years and move to the Regional championship game for just the second time in 20 years is just a bit of what she remembers.

“That doesn’t give the full picture of this team,” said Wyss. “With nine players returning next year, I expect my lineup to look similar next year, but these girls are hungry.

“I would dare to say that they were left a bit unsatisfied with the season. We never felt like we had our moment to celebrate, as we ended the conference season (and Regionals) with a loss, and we want so much more.

“We don’t want to share the conference title next year, and we want to bring home a Regional championship plaque. These will be the girls to do it.”