Summit League Freshman of the Year, Elizabeth Juhnke, made an immediate impact when she joined the Coyote volleyball team last fall.
The six-foot outside hitter from Lakeville, Minn. was a part of the 16-0 Summit League regular season team and led the Summit League with 520 kills.
Juhnke said making an immediate impact was exactly what she wanted.
“I had been working so hard in club and in high school to become the best player possible coming into college,” Junke said. “Having the opportunity to represent my school as a freshman and play as much as I did — I am very lucky but it also took a lot of work.”
Most recently, Juhnke along with teammates sophomores Madison Jurgens and Lolo Weideman took part in the U.S. Women’s National Team Open Tryout at the Olympic and Paralympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colorado in February.
However, Juhnke was the sole Coyote named to the USA Volleyball U.S. Collegiate National Team-Anaheim Roster.
Juhnke said this was the experience that was once in a lifetime. In Colorado Springs, she played alongside collegiate players from across the country.
“We got the experience to play alongside some of the best players from these big schools which were a super cool opportunity that many people don’t get the chance to experience. ”
She is one of 28 players selected on the team and plans to train in Anaheim June 21-27 alongside the U.S. Women’s National Team.
“I was just happy that I got the experience to go and play in front of the USA coaches,” Junke said. “I was pretty excited to hear that I get to go out and play next to the Olympic team. I think it will be a really cool experience and I’m excited to represent (USD) out in California.”
As of right now the team is still planning to play in California this summer, Juhnke said, but due to COVID-19 things could change.
After coming off of a runner up NIVC finish the Coyotes are looking for another successful fall season Juhnke is confident in. However, preparing for the fall is looking different than it has in the past.
“It’s a new season and for how great last year was it’s now time to focus on the 2020 season,” Juhnke said. “I think now with getting our spring season taken away it has become a little different because we are not able to be working on our volleyball skills.”
The women’s volleyball team is focused on building relationships to have a strong connection to the court in August.
“Building relationships with our teammates and doing what we can to get stronger whether that’s working out with weights or doing bodyweight stuff,” Junke said. “It’s hard to do a lot right now with the situations we are in but it’s being creative and finding different ways to connect with each other.”
Juhnke said she believes the close connections with her teammates are what drives them to perform well.
“We all had the drive to win. Going into the season I don’t think I could’ve predicted the season we had. (My teammates) knew exactly how to get me out of my head if I was struggling and knew how to get me back on my game,” Juhnke said. “A huge thing for me as a player is my confidence and my teammates were really good at instilling confidence in me.”