Three-year starter providing stability for Bull Dogs

Avery Wendel remembers how nervous she was her freshman volleyball season, and now, she’s trying to make sure this year’s Columbus North freshmen don’t feel the same way.

That’s one of the many roles Wendel, now a senior, has taken on this year as the Bull Dogs’ most experienced player. North lost seven seniors, including four three-year starters from last year’s 20-14 squad.

“I feel like I have kind of a pressure on me to be a leader, but I think a lot of the other girls are very experienced, as well, even though they have not been on varsity all three years they’ve been here,” Wendel said. “But I do feel a little pressure on myself to be a leader on the team since a lot of us are young starters.”

Part of that leadership comes with helping freshmen Augustina Fainguersch and Maddy Sebahar feel at ease on the court.

“With being a senior, and since this is my first year this year having to be a leader, I’ve had to help motivate the younger girls,” Wendel said. “Since we do have two freshmen on our varsity team this year, I’ve kind of tried to help them feel comfortable on the court because I know when I was a freshman and played varsity sometimes, I was very nervous and I was always jittery before games. So I kind of took that upon myself that I could relate to them, and I tried to help them and motivate them and talk to them on the court to keep them comfortable with the situation.”

“She’s one of the girls that I think the underclassmen and the others that haven’t had as much experience at the varsity level look to to kind of understand how things are done, how practices go,” North coach Caitlin Greiner said. “She’s almost like a calming factor on the court because she is our consistency that we have, especially as one of our outsides. So far, she’s been a very big help.”

Now in her third year as a starter, Wendel has provided plenty of punch on the court, as well. She …, for the Bull Dogs, who are off to a 3-6 start.

“I think we’re a very well-balanced team right now,” Greiner said. “I don’t want to say we don’t have any all-stars because each match, different girls rise to the occasion, and she’s definitely done that already. If we’re down, or we’re in trouble, she definitely is someone we look to to kind of lift the team up.”

The 5-foot-9 Wendel began her varsity career as a right-side hitter her freshman year. She moved to middle hitter as sophomore and was there the first few games of junior year before moving to the left side, where she has been ever since.

“She’s played every position, which has been nice because she’s been able to learn every position, so we can move her around if necessary,” Greiner said. “If we need to find her and get her the ball, we’re able to anywhere on the court.”

Wendel, who plays in the front row and serves for North, played in both the front and back row for her South Indy club team.

“I play for a really good club, and last year, we had a good team and a good season with good coaches,” Wendel said. “I think I improved a lot in the back row because I usually do not play back row, and I got a lot of new back row skills last year.”

“She worked really hard in the offseason,” Greiner said. “She was in a competitive club. She was at all the open gyms, and I think the biggest thing is, she has really improved on her aggressiveness on the outside and attacking the ball.”

Although she is undecided on a college, Wendel wants to study fashion merchandising and marketing. Volleyball is not in her future plans.

“This season is my last volleyball season in my career, so I’m trying to go out strong and enjoy it, have fun with my friends and have a good season,” Wendel said.

The Bull Dogs enjoyed their first winning season in several years last year and are looking to make it two in a row.

“I 100 percent believe that we will have a winning season,” Wendel said. “We had a little bit of a rough start with a few of the away games, but this past week, we’ve had a lot of team bonding times, and I think we’re building from here. It’s still the beginning, so we have a lot of building up to do from here, and I think that given our rough start, that’s going to motivate a lot of us to do way better from here.”

Leader of the Pack

Name: Avery Wendel

High school: Columbus North

Year: Senior

Height: 5-foot-9

Position: Outside hitter

Author photo
Ted Schultz is sports editor for The Republic. He can be reached at tschultz@therepublic.com or 812-379-5628.