Versatile Schmitz leads Rocket volleyball honors

Cedar Grove-Belgium setter Payton Dodson and Ozaukee’s outside hitter Evy Geis honored by Big East Conference coaches for their play this season


Ozaukee Press staff

It’s difficult to find a statistical category of the Cedar Grove-Belgium High School volleyball team without the name Tara Schmitz at or near the top.

The junior led the Big East Conference in blocks with 58 and led the Rockets in hitting percentage at .135. She was second in kills at 1.9 per set, aces with 44 ­— serving at a 93.3% clip — serve receptions with 263 and assists with 78. She was third in digs with 273 and kills with 169, one less than teammate Katelyn Morris’ 170.

That performance and Schmitz’ leadership earned her a selection to the Big East first team this season.

“She really is a middle blocker, a middle hitter, but I don’t have her starting in that position,” coach Sharon Stellwagen said.

“Sometimes she’s outside or right side, but most of the time she’s in the middle and blocking.”

That, Stellwagen said, is where Schmitz shines the brightest.

“She does have a natural talent for timing the block,” she said. “That’s pretty much what put her on the team as a freshman. She just had that timing, and that’s really tough to teach. She just has it naturally.”

Schmitz is also a smart player, Stellwagen said, who knows when to hit the ball hard, tip it or do a roll shot.

The two-year co-captain also earned her teammates’ respect.

“She is a leader. She’s very likable,” Stellwagen said. “Players vote for this, I don’t do this. We saw last year she has that leadership in her.”

Last season, Schmitz stepped up to be the team’s setter, but this year senior Payton Dodson excelled in Stellwagen’s 5-1 offense and earned Big East honorable mention.

It’s a role Dodson wanted.

“Last year, she asked me if she could be the 5-1 setter. I said, Work hard in the offseason and show we what you’ve got,’” Stellwagen said.

That Dodson did, earning the job and racking up 597 assists on the season.

“Payton’s leadership is through her setting — who she sets, when she sets, how she sets,” Stellwagen said.

Dodson also led the Rockets in aces with 74, including a few clutch serves. She was the Rockets’ first server in each set with a 91.1% clip.

Dodson helped the team pull out a win over rival Oostburg during an invite by serving two points, including one ace, to end the deciding game. At Random Lake, when the Rockets fell behind, 2-0, “She came roaring back with her serve,” Stellwagen said.

In addition, “with her smart play, she had a couple of really good dumps,” tipping balls to an open space in the middle and back corner of the court.

“It’s nice to see she took that leadership position. She listened to the advice coaches were giving her, and it ended up resulting in big points,” Stellwagen said.

For Ozaukee, senior Evelynn Geis earned honorable mention after leading the team in a couple of categories.

Geis’ 110 kills and 20 aces were the most for the Warriors, and she was second in passing at 57.4%.

“Evy finished off her high school career strong. She was one of those hitters that, when she went up, you held your breath because you never knew what was going to come,” first-year co-coach Amanda Dieringer said.

“She definitely improved in how to play smart and where to put the ball. She’s just an absolute powerhouse.”

The Rockets went 2-4 in the Big East Blue Division, tied with Sheboygan Lutheran and Sheboygan Christian for fourth place of seven teams. Ozaukee was last at 0-6.

Howards Grove won the Big East title at 6-0 and won its fourth straight Division 3 state championship.



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Ozaukee Press

Wisconsin’s largest paid circulation community weekly newspaper. Serving Port Washington, Saukville, Grafton, Fredonia, Belgium, as well as Ozaukee County government. Locally owned and printed in Port Washington, Wisconsin.

125 E. Main St.
Port Washington, WI 53074
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