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Finishing with 1,895 career set assists, Goodhue senior Mikayla Tipcke is the Republican Eagle All-Area Player of the Year for the second time in three years after helping the Wildcats to a nine-game improvement in 2013. (Republican Eagle photo by Joe Brown)

All-Area Volleyball: Tipcke sets the standard

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Mikayla Tipcke is used to being like an extra coach on the court. 

Playing on the Goodhue varsity volleyball team for four years, Tipcke’s help was needed as the Wildcats transitioned to first-year head coach Lindsey Mace in 2013, and the senior setter may as well have had a clipboard and a whistle.

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“I absolutely loved it. I have done it for so many years now that it didn’t make it any different than normal,” Tipcke said about helping the coach on the court. “(With a new coach) it made it that I had to step up. I thought if we all stepped up on the court, she would be comfortable right away.”

A force all over the court, the 2013 Republican Eagle All-Area Player of the Year could be counted on to run a team’s offense (809 set assists, 110 kills, 45 ace serves) as well as be a reliable defender everywhere on the floor (345 digs, 21 blocks). All the while, she was one of the players Mace leaned on as the new coach became acclimated to the team.

“She’s been on the varsity for four years and she wasn’t afraid to ask questions,” Mace said. “Then, she could tell her teammates as the setter, ‘Hey, you have to do this.’ She did more than I could have expected as a player in my first year.

“With her and Emilee (Roschen, Goodhue’s libero), we would sit down and strategize,” Mace added. “I’ll miss having that leadership on the team.”

Helping matters was a senior-heavy team that had 10 players in their final year. Not only did they have experience, the Wildcats’ seniors came into the season with a bit of a chip on their shoulder after a sub-.500 record of 12-17-2 in 2012.

“Our team mentality was like, ‘OK, this is it, we’re seniors,’” Tipcke said. “We brought in new ideas from our new head coach and our motivation got higher. We worked together, and our confidence continued to build.”

Goodhue had a nine-win improvement in 2013, going 21-8 and earning the No. 3 seed in the Section 1A-East sub-section.

“I think they realized this was it. It’s a now-or-never kind of thing,” Mace said.

All the while, Tipcke set up passes all over the net to middle hitters Kali Ryan and Shelby Hinsch, and to outside hitters like Meredith Watson and Jo Ellen Poncelet. Tipcke’s top target, Mikayla Miller, tallied 269 kills on the way to being named a Class 1A All-State honorable mention.

“As a setter, (having a lot of weapons) is the most reassuring thing,” Tipcke said. “It has been tough other years when you think, ‘Is the ball going to go over? Is it going out of bounds?’ The nicest thing was I could trick the blockers and set to all four or five of our hitters. … With our group, we had a lot of trust and experience.”

But it was the ability to make everyone at the net an offensive threat that made Goodhue a tough team to hold down.

“She’s such a smart player,” Mace said of Tipcke. “Mikayla (Miller) was our best offensive threat and other teams knew it. Mikayla (Tipcke) made sure that teams couldn’t just camp on Miller. … I never had to tell (Tipcke) to mix it up, she kept the hitters on their toes and kept them active. That was all her.”

Finishing her career with 1,895 set assists, Tipcke ends her Goodhue tenure as a four-time All-Hiawatha Valley League and four-time All-Area selection, as well as a two-time All-Area Player of the Year, with her first selection coming as a sophomore in 2011. 

With her high school career wrapped up, Tipcke is headed to the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire, where she hopes to play on the volleyball team. 

Excelling at both the offensive and defensive end, Mace has no doubt that Tipcke can find a spot on a Division III volleyball team.

“In my eyes, she could go to a D-III school and be an outside hitter, a setter or a libero,” Mace said.

After devoting four years to the Wildcats, Tipcke has one more bit of advice to the team: just keep playing.

“Volleyball is such a mental game that if they can get a bond between all the players, it makes things better. Just keep getting touches on the ball and keep the mentality that we’re going to win this one,” Tipcke said. “Just because there are 10 seniors graduating doesn’t mean there aren’t 10 juniors and sophomores ready to take over.”

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