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Schopp potent option in Warner volleyball attack

Warner’s Kyleigh Schopp, center, hits the ball from the back row as teammate MaKenna Leidholt (12) looks on and Aberdeen Roncalli’s Jaidyn Feickert, left, defends the net during a match earlier this season at the Roncalli High School gym. Schopp is one of Warner's top hitters. Photo by John Davis taken 9/26/2023

Kyleigh Schopp has seen an abundance of success during her prep volleyball career.

The Warner junior has been a part of a Monarchs volleyball program that has brought home the past two state volleyball championships, and has also seen several more championships and tournament appearances in her lifetime.

Schopp credited Warner coach Kari Jung for the success that she and her teammates have had through the years.

“It’s been a great experience,” Schopp said. “Mrs. Jung has been a great coach to us. She’s definitely showed us how when we work together can get us places. If we didn’t have people pushing us every day, then we wouldn’t be where we are. She’s just created a great program ever since we’ve been young.”

Schopp and her teammates began playing volleyball when they were in third grade, and she said the program has also been successful because of the young start.

“I don’t think we’d have the program that we do if we didn’t start that young,” Schopp said.

Schopp also participates in basketball and track and field, but enjoys the environment that volleyball brings each and every match.

“There’s so much competition on the court during practice (and) during games, that just makes it so fun to play,” Schopp said.

Getting to this point in her career has taken plenty of hard work during the offseason, not only working on her physical skills, but her communication skills as well.

“I’ve been doing a lot in the offseason just working on my all-around game, like training, getting stronger, just playing with my team, honestly, to improve my relationship with them and to be able to work well on the court together,” Schopp said.

Schopp and the younger players have also been able to learn a lot from the current senior volleyball players, which has added to the team chemistry this season.

“The seniors have been great leaders to us, showing us the ropes, just how to act mature enough in front of the younger kids so they know what to do,” Schopp said. “It’s just been great to learn the court sense. They’ve taught us all of that.”

Jung said she has seen immense improvement in Schopp, especially in the past year.

“(She is) just a totally different player than last year. She has so much confidence this year,” Jung said. “She’s gotten stronger and stronger as the season has gone on. Her kill efficiency is just incredible. She has really gotten rid of a lot of her unforced hitting errors that she had last season, and she’s learned how to attack balls that aren’t right perfect to her, and still finish plays. That has helped our team tremendously.”

Warner’s Kyleigh Schopp, left, hits the ball as Freeman’s Ashlin Jacobsen, right, defends the net during a Class B match at last year’s South Dakota State Championships at the Denny Sanford Premier Center in Sioux Falls. Photo by John Davis taken 11/17/2022

Jung said she sees a fun, enjoyable person when Schopp is off the court.

“She’s kind of hilarious,” Jung said. “She shocked me in the team gathering. She was like the leader of the pack. Let’s do this, let’s do this, and let’s do this, and just getting everybody going and just had so much energy. It was fun to see her leadership off the court.”

On the court, however, there is a much quieter version of Schopp.

“On the court, we have so many seniors that she hasn’t really needed to do all of that,” Jung said. “She’s just kind of a quieter person on the court even though she gets super excited when things are going well. It’s just fun to see that she’s going to be a good leader next year as well.”

Warner has been working hard at attempting to win yet another state title, and Schopp said it has taken a lot of effort to get to where they are this season.

“We’ve been really just working our communication with each other, trusting each other, just because we know when we trust each other we play a lot smoother,” Schopp said. “Our defenders have been passing so well that Ava (Nilsson) has been giving us great balls.”

Jung said the team’s strong communication has helped take pressure off of certain players, with Schopp playing a huge role in complementing her teammates.

Warner’s Kyleigh Schopp prepares to hit the ball in a SoDak 16 match against Viborg-Hurley last season in Watertown. Photo by Lynn Aman

“Ava has made a great connection with Kyleigh this season, and it’s taken a lot of pressure off of our outside hitters,” Jung said. “Last year I felt like teams followed our outside hitters all over the court, and this year now they’re following Kyleigh a lot more. It’s given our outside hitters a better opportunity to score. The kids interact well with her. Our team gets along great, and they love having Kyleigh on the court.”

Although Schopp is only a junior, she has already had several memorable moments in her career, with the potential for more to come. However, one moment stands out in particular.

“I would say probably last year’s state championship,” Schopp said. “Just getting that back-to-back state championship was an amazing feeling.”

Now the Monarchs will turn their attention to this year’s state tournament and the chance at a three-peat. Schopp said it will take a team effort to bring back a third consecutive state title for Warner.

“I think it’s just going take teamwork,” Schopp said. “We’ve been working so well together at practice and if we just continue to take it one game at a time, play like this game that we’re in right now is our very last and we’ve given it 100 percent, we’re going to be able to do it.”

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