Steinkirchner’s net play key for Palisade

Palisade’s Audrey Steinkirchner records a kill earlier this season during a match against Battle Mountain. Steinkirchner has 264 kills this season heading into the Bulldogs’ match today against Delta.

Audrey Steinkirchner can dominate at the volleyball net.

The 6-foot-2 Palisade High School volleyball player is an intimidating force at the net, and this season has helped the Bulldogs to a 7-3 record in the Western Slope League.

“It’s exciting because she can do things that a 5-foot-3 girl can’t physically do,” Palisade coach Wendy MacAskill said. “But it’s also about the heart with her.”

Steinkirchner plays mostly as a middle blocker and has 264 kills this season, averaging 4.5 kills per game.

The Palisade junior also has 58 blocks, including 47 solo blocks.

“I love being at the net,” Steinkirchner said. “I can get it over people’s heads, but it’s not just having height, you have to have a vertical (leap) and good timing.”

Despite having natural ability, Steinkirchner had to mature into a good player at the net. Steinkirchner began playing volleyball in eighth grade, and when she came to Palisade as a freshman, she was tabbed as a setter.

“When she first starting playing here she wasn’t a hitter for us,” MacAskill said. “So we’ve seen her evolve from a setter to a half-setter/half-hitter to now being a big part of our offense.”

Steinkirchner worked at becoming an all-around player since she moved to the front row. Steinkirchner is second on the team in both aces (27) and digs (153).

“I feel like the coaches trust me more with my defense and serving,” Steinkirchner said. “I’ve improved a lot from when I first started.”

Although it’s hard to miss Steinkirchner on the volleyball court with her size, she’s focused on having her best asset be her ability to play with her teammates.

“The most important thing is being a team player,” Steinkirchner said. “It’s nothing talent-wise because we have that all over the court, it’s encouraging people and being positive.”

MacAskill said what Steinkirchner brings to the team off the court is just as important to her physical skills.

“She’ll never ask someone to do something she’s not willing to do herself,” MacAskill said. “She’s respected on our team for not only the player she is, but the person she is.”

Steinkirchner, along with setter Shannon Rhodes (328 assists) and Danette Whittington (224 digs), have put the Bulldogs in good position heading into the final week of WSL play.

The Bulldogs are in second place in the league and travel today to Delta and host Glenwood Springs on Thursday.

The top five teams from the WSL qualify for districts. The pairings will be released Sunday.

“We want to make it past districts, because we haven’t done that in a while,” Steinkirchner said. “We are going to do that this year.”


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