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Columbus North volleyball coach Caitlin Greiner likens Karen Wildemann to a running quarterback in football.
As the Bull Dogs’ setter, Wildemann is involved in almost every play. The performance of the 5-foot-9 junior is a big reason why North is off to a 2-1 start following Thursday’s four-game upset of Class 2A No. 5 Heritage Christian.
“I could not ask for a better leader and a better quarterback on my team because she’s running the ball every single play,” Greiner said. “She leads not only by example, but the way she steps in and fights for everything.”
Wildemann has taken over the setting role full-time this season after splitting time between hitter and setter last year. She began and ended last season as a hitter, but was twice forced into the setting role when then-senior Quin Shoultz was sidelined with injuries.
With Shoultz now playing at the University of Indianapolis, Wildemann was the only Bull Dog player returning with varsity setting experience.
“She set for us last year when Quin was injured, so I knew she would step into that role,” Greiner said. “I never want to say I had it set in stone because she was a very big asset to hitting and defense for us last year, so I didn’t know exactly where I was going to play her. But she took that role on well.”
Wildemann, who set for her club team in the winter and spring, has adapted with flying colors. Senior Tessa Krempel and juniors Janelle Peters and Makinsey Summa have been the main beneficiaries of her sets, and freshman Maliah Howard has been doing some hitting and providing help as a second setter.
“I think playing with each other all through last year and all through this summer, we’ve gotten used to each other and can read each other’s minds,” Wildemann said.
Wildemann, who swims for North in the winter, hopes to play volleyball in college.
“She’s a competitor,” Greiner said. “She’s made a huge impact. She comes out every day, whether it’s a practice or a match, with fire, and everything is a competition for her.”
Following a season-opening loss at Shelbyville, the Bull Dogs opened their Conference Indiana schedule with a home win over Bloomington North on Tuesday. That set the stage for Thursday’s upset of Heritage Christian.
“We started out a little slow, but these last two games have been great,” Wildemann said. “They’ve been so much fun, and we’ve been pulling out the wins.”
That’s been a stark contrast to last year, when North started 0-5 on their way to a 10-25 season.
“I feel like we all have the attitude of winning,” Wildemann said. “Last year, we were content with losing, but this year, we’re content with winning.”
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