Girls volleyball: Stevenson's Holsen: A great competitor, teammate
Forget all the lofty numbers and accolades -- things Stevenson senior outside hitter Amanda Holsen has in spades.
In the mind of Patriots coach Tim Crow, Holsen's greatest asset has nothing to do with volleyball.
"What impresses me the most about her is who she is as a person in general," he said. "Amanda is such a competitor, yet she has the emotional maturity to still be a supportive teammate. I am impressed with her passion for the game and wanting the team to be successful."
Holsen's exploits on the floor helped Stevenson win 25 matches this season and also earned her the distinction of being named the 2021 Daily Herald Lake County All-Area Girls Volleyball Team Captain.
The Daily Herald this year enlisted the help of Lake County girls volleyball coaches in selecting the All-Area captain, where Holsen was the top vote-getter. Standout Carmel senior libero Milana Moisio, Libertyville junior outside hitter Keira Kasten and Lakes senior outside hitter Julia Tebben also received consideration.
"Amanda was very vital," Crow said. "It would be hard pressed to find another single player who did what she did night in and night out for our team.
"Her relentless work ethic and her commitment to strength training has really enhanced her natural athletic abilities. Amanda also has extremely high expectations for herself, greater than any I could ever place on her. As a player, she can attack from every position on the floor, has a variety of shots and has a high volleyball IQ. She studies the game, watches film and puts it into practice."
The Division I Columbia University-bound Holsen finished her senior year with 507 kills, 59 aces, 34 blocks and 279 digs as a 6-rotation player. She earned all-North Suburban Conference honors and was named to the American Volleyball Coaches Association Best and Brightest first team. Crow noted the 6-foot Holsen led the state in total kills during the regular season with 482, as tracked by the MaxPreps service.
"Amanda will go down as one of the best players in Stevenson volleyball history," Crow said. "She is an incredible person, player and teammate. She has produced night in and night out over the past three seasons."
Holsen leaves Stevenson second all-time in career kills (1,193) and second all-time in single-season kills (507). She holds the program single-match record for kills (30).
"Looking back when I started in the Stevenson program I was so scared," Holsen said. "My confidence has gotten a lot stronger."
And as a result, Holsen blossomed on the leadership front. "Leadership did come naturally, but it's definitely something I still had to work at," she said. "That's something that can be difficult at times, but we had a great group of girls that worked hard. It made my job easier. My leadership skills have gotten a lot better, but the girls on the team have helped that get better. I wanted to make sure I was a good leader this year. I was a senior captain and wanted that to be the main focus going into the season -- be a good leader and help mentor the younger girls. I knew leadership would be a huge part of my success, so it was my main goal."
Crow agreed that Holsen's leadership took a big step forward this fall. "Her biggest improvement was her vocal leadership in the huddle and engaging in personal conversations with her teammates on game strategy and game plan," he said.
Holsen said the fact Stevenson returned to as normal a routine as possible given the continuing COVID-19 regulations was a bonus in itself.
"I was super-grateful to have a season in general," she said. "To have a season this year that was full and normal made me want to come out and really go all out on a tight-knit team. Without this team and the way it was, that wouldn't have been able to happen. The chemistry on and off the court was great. The girls are super-close and I made a lot of new friends and developed a lot of relationships throughout the season. I was more successful and the team was more successful due to the communication and the relationships. As we progressed, we became more successful."
Holsen, who plays club volleyball at Crystal Lake-based Sky High, said she wants to be remembered for being a good teammate, rather than the numbers she put up over the years. "I developed a lot of strong relationships with people at Stevenson," she said. "I want to be remembered as a leader who had a positive impact, and not just for setting records. Who doesn't want to set records, but the long-lasting relationships that were formed and the mentoring, I wanted to leave an impact that way so the program can remain strong in the future."
And now it's off to the city they liked so much they named it twice -- New York and Columbia University.
"I wanted to play DI volleyball. It was a dream of mine, but it was important to me and my family to choose somewhere that provided a strong education," said Holsen, a straight-A student at Stevenson (only one B in her career there) who thanked her parents, Stan and Angie, for their above-and-beyond support of her volleyball endeavors over the years.
"Being able to get an Ivy League education is amazing and I am also super-grateful to be able to go to a good Division I program. In talking to schools, I fell in love with the Columbia coaching staff. Their goals really align. It's a great fit for me."
Crow has no doubt Holsen will have a career of significance at Columbia.
"Amanda will be successful because of who she is as a person and the values she holds," he said. "She wants to be great at everything she values. Columbia is a great fit for her academically as well as athletically. She will shine and help others shine as well."
THE ALL-AREA TEAM
Name School Year Position
Elli Amjadi Vernon Hills Jr. Libero
Hannah Benes Antioch Sr. Libero
Ashley Branford Libertyville Jr. MB
Gabrielle Brewer Warren Jr. S
Maegan Brylski Lakes Sr. S-RS
Piper Gallaher Grayslake Central Sr. MB
Michelle Gonchar Stevenson Sr. MB
Megan Grampo Grayslake Central Sr. OH
*Amanda Holsen Stevenson Sr. OH
Kelly Hutchins Libertyville Sr. MB
Keira Kasten Libertyville Jr. OH
Arianna Knowles Grayslake North Sr. MB
Milana Moisio Carmel Sr. Libero
Emily Porter Grayslake North Sr. OH
Lauren Shaw Warren Jr. OH
Julia Shrofe Carmel Sr. S
Julia Tebben Lakes Sr. OH
Chelsea Williams Lake Zurich Jr. OH
Cadence Wodrich Grant Sr. MB
Ruth Ziegler Warren Soph. MB
* -- All-Area Captain
Honorable MentionAlexa Cieslinski (Vernon Hills) Jr. RS, Grace Comilla (Libertyville) Sr. Libero, Delaney Coombes (Warren Jr. MB)
Kendal Crawford (Warren Sr. OH), Molly Cummings (Warren Sr. Libero), Anneke Holm (Grayslake North) Jr. S, Bella Feijoo (Mundelein) Jr. Libero, Taylor Fruehling (Grant) Sr. OH, Jarynn Hartman (Lake Zurich) Sr. OH, Veronica Henkel (Antioch) Sr. OH, Mija Jegers (Stevenson) Soph. OH-DS, Nora Larson (Antioch) Jr. OH-RS, Annika Lindstrom (Antioch) Sr. MB, Jaimie Marquardt (Libertyville) Soph. S, Milan Moore (Carmel) Sr. MB, Maddie Monahan (Grayslake Central) Jr. S, Hailey Russo (Lakes) Sr. OH, Peyton Self (Vernon Hills) Jr. OH