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‘Offensive weapon’ Jadyn Rausch is North Tama’s first T-R Player of the Year

T-R PHOTO BY NOAH ROHLFING - North Tama junior Jadyn Rausch poses with the school’s third state qualifier banner in the last six seasons. Rausch has helped the Redhawk volleyball program come to expect hanging banners like this in the Redhawks’ Nest.

TRAER — North Tama volleyball does things its own way.

Molded by head coach Channing Halstead from a program that had never reached the state volleyball tournament to one which now expects to be in Cedar Rapids at the end of each year, North Tama has prided itself on being scrappy, aggressive and playing a unique style.

The lynchpin for this style in the past two years has been setter Jadyn Rausch — a junior whose strong 2021 season has given the Redhawks their first Times-Republican All-Area Player of the Year.

A Class 1A first-team all-state selection and member of the All-Tournament team from the Redhawks’ semifinals run, Rausch was a key cog in a collective that came together to match North Tama’s deepest postseason run in school history.

With some time removed from a crushing semifinals sweep at the hands of eventual state runner-up Springville, Rausch said the trip to state was a highlight of her career to this point.

“It didn’t quite go the way we wanted to, obviously, in the end but it was a good experience and I’m ready to go back,” Rausch said. “It’s crazy looking back on it. Like, we all did that. We put in so many hours to get to where we wanted to be, it was cool to see it pay off.”

Rausch has played with the same group of players since elementary and middle school, which has allowed the group to have a heightened level of understanding on the court. That’s important, because her style of play is something which takes getting used to. She admitted sometimes she can still catch her own teammates off guard with her decisions to either set, hit or pass over the next.

The genesis for Rausch’s role as a do-it-all player on the offensive end comes from Halstead’s preference to run her attack in a unique fashion.

“I kind of just have always liked that,” Halstead said. “To have a girl as athletic as Jadyn in the setter position, it was a good opportunity to try to take that route. It’s not easy, because she’s not left-handed, so her skills had to catch up with her athleticism in order to be able to do that.”

There’s a lot of athleticism, quick thinking and creativity that goes into the role, as well as a lot of responsibility to dictate how the offense plays. For the past two seasons, Rausch has gotten extensive work in this position and Halstead said they are continually trying to add things to her game to keep opponents off guard.

It’s made all the more unorthodox by Rausch’s right-handedness — meaning she is getting kills with her off-hand more often than not in her position. This might be particularly important next season, as Rausch and the rest of the Redhawks put a lot of tape together in big wins over Lisbon and Gehlen Catholic in the postseason.

Rausch said the work done with Halstead has changed the way she plays the game.

“It was kind of a big expectation, but that’s fun to me because I’m a very competitive person,” Rausch said. “The first year was definitely my building year, and the last two years I’ve definitely found what I’m good at.

Working towards that and having something to work towards was fun.”

She was third on the Redhawks in kills this season with 243, only trailing outside hitters Shae Ewoldt and Lainey Willenbring. Rausch was also second on the team in hitting percentage at .274, behind only rotation player Breanna Sebetka. Those aren’t normal attacking numbers for a setter — and certainly not for one that led the team with 703 assists.

She isn’t a finished product on this end of the floor, either. Halstead said they have one main goal for Rausch to develop her event more next year.

“She’s got the power part down, so now we’re working more of the finesse shots too,” Halstead said. “Everybody is expecting her power, so we’re working on finesse and placing stuff too

“We go to her a lot out of system, so that’s kind of the next step is getting her to swing some [in system].”

It was at times a tough group to get working together on all cylinders, Halstead said, but Rausch emerged as a leader in this junior-led core for the Redhawks. One thing Halstead pointed out about Rausch as a defining quality is her aggressiveness when making decisions on the court. Halstead said she conducts herself very quietly off the court and isn’t a loud person — but when on a volleyball court, her competitive fire shines through.

A part of this was learned in her freshman year, as she was on the bench for the 2019 North Tama squad that made it to the state semifinals. That group of seniors had a big impact on Rausch, and Halstead said they told the current crop of juniors they would be back to come watch them play at state.

“We talked about, ‘It’s our turn,'” Halstead said. “They were a part of it in ’19 but they weren’t the ones doing it. As a coach, too, you look at how much time they put in and how many weekends and how much we commit to this, the fact it finally comes full circle with all of that money, all of that travel, all that time with teams and those teammates, that’s what it’s all about.

“I know they’re not done yet, I think they’re looking for more.”

With that mission accomplished, Rausch and the Redhawks now have the chance to aim even higher.

Returning much of their offensive output — including the top three hitters last season in Ewoldt, Rausch and Willenbring — expectations for next season from the outside will be higher than before.

North Tama’s unique style is what has helped make it a disruptor in 1A volleyball. Now, there’s no more hiding the unorthodox Redhawks and their ‘offensive weapon’.

“I think you’ll see us next year,” Rausch said. “There’s a lot [of motivation] there, there’s more than I even say.”

2021 T-R All-Area Volleyball Team

Player of the Year — Jadyn Rausch, jr., North Tama

Co-Coaches of the Year — Channing Halstead, North Tama, and Paula Kelley, Gladbrook-Reinbeck

FIRST TEAM

Megan Cooley, jr., MH, Gladbrook-Reinbeck

Shae Ewoldt, jr., OH, North Tama

Autumn Finch, sr., Marshalltown

Katy Reyerson, jr., RS/OH, West Marshall

Eden Wilson, sr., OH, BCLUW

Ava Wyatt, jr., OH, Gladbrook-Reinbeck

SECOND TEAM

Katie Clark, sr., MH, Gladbrook-Reinbeck

Allison Engle, sr., S/MH, BCLUW

Halie Hohnstein, so., MH/OH, West Marshall

Emma McClintock, jr., S, Gladbrook-Reinbeck

Lainey Willenbring, jr., OH, North Tama

Sophie Younkin, sr., OH, Marshalltown

HONORABLE MENTION

Sydney Anderson, so., S/OH, BCLUW; Emma Averill, sr., L, BCLUW; Kortney Babinat, jr., OH/RS, South Tama; Kaitlyn Calderwood, sr., L, North Tama; Reilly Jensen, sr., S, West Marshall; Aubree Monat, sr., DS, North Tama; Mahayla Olson, sr., OH, Gladbrook-Reinbeck; Keatan Pfantz, jr., L, West Marshall; Khloe Shipley, jr., S, Marshalltown; Adelyn Sienknecht, so., OH, GMG; Gracie Vest, sr., OH, South Tama; Camy Weeks, sr., L, East Marshall.

Past Players of the Year:

2020 — Saari Kuehl, sr., OH, Gladbrook-Reinbeck

2019 — Saari Kuehl, jr., OH, Gladbrook-Reinbeck

2018 — Easton Swanson, sr., OH, BCLUW

2017 — Regan Mazour, sr., OH, Marshalltown

2016 — Regan Mazour, jr., OH, Marshalltown

2015 — Regan Mazour, so., OH, Marshalltown

2014 — Rachel Whaley, jr., OH, Marshalltown

2013 — Riley Sents, sr., L, Grundy Center

2012 — Heather Hook, sr., S, Grundy Center

2011 — Sam Meyers, jr., OH, Grundy Center

2010 — Jordan Loney, sr., OH, Marshalltown

2009 — Lauren Lockhart, sr., MH, Marshalltown

2008 — Macy Ubben, sr., OH, AGWSR

2007 — Tahler Johnston, sr., OH, Marshalltown

2006 — Ali Dolphin, sr., OH, Marshalltown, and Kelsey Sents, S/OH, Grundy Center

2005 — Megan Ewoldt, sr., MH, Eldora-New Providence

2004 — Kristin Harris, sr., OH, and Nicole VanderPol, sr., MH, Grundy Center

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