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Denny-Weber stays local, signs with MCC

December 27, 2018
Thorn Compton T-R Assistant Sports Editor , Reinbeck Courier

REINBECK - Gladbrook-Reinbeck senior Madison Denny-Weber has decided to stay local for the first two years and lend her skills to the Marshalltown Community College volleyball team.

Denny-Weber signed her National Letter of Intent to join the Tigers on Wednesday in the Gladbrook-Reinbeck gym, and she said it didn't feel real until she actually signed her name on the dotted line.

"Signing that paper is when it became a reality. I didn't even read it, which I probably should have," Denny-Weber said with a laugh. "This is like a crazy experience and I am so excited to join a new team and make new memories."

Article Photos

Gladbrook-Reinbeck senior Madison Denny-Weber, middle, signed her National Letter of Intent to join the Marshalltown Community College volleyball team on Wednesday. Joining Denny-Weber at the signing table are MCC head volleyball coach Justin Hoskins, left, and G-R head volleyball coach Paula Kelley, right.

MCC volleyball is getting a talented setter that has shown a lot of growth even in just her senior season. Denny-Weber finished third in Class 1A in assists with 752 this year, many of which went to talented sophomore hitter Saari Kuehl, who finished second in the class in kills.

Tigers head volleyball coach Justin Hoskins said he saw Denny-Weber's potential early on this season, and the more he saw of her play the more he liked.

"I saw Madi at a local tournament and I thought she did a good job putting her hitters in a position to be successful," he said. "She has smooth hands through the ball and she just does a good job organizing and running their team. That's really what we are looking for in a setter coming in next year."

Denny-Weber also showed an ability to come up big in tight spots, as she and many of the other G-R girls all made huge plays during the team's run to the state tournament for the first time in 30 years.

Rebel head coach Paula Kelley couldn't contain her excitement for her senior setter.

"This is the first kid I've had do the actual signature, I've had kids go on and play but never had anybody sign. I am excited for her," Kelley said with a permanent grin.

Denny-Weber becomes the third Gladbrook-Reinbeck volleyball player to join the Iowa Community College Athletic Conference in the last two years joining Paige Eiffler and Tessa Sienknecht, who signed with Hawkeye Community College and NIACC respectively last season.

"For our kids returning this is now somebody local that we can go see just like Tessa and Paige have been local with Mason City and Cedar Falls," Kelley said of the benefits of Denny-Weber's signing. "Now we have Marshalltown, so it's great because we can see them more often and watch their growth."

Remaining relatively close to home was a big reason why Denny-Weber said she chose the Tigers, that and the uniform choices.

"It's a good school, it's sponsored by Nike and I love Nike," Denny-Weber said with a smile. "Their team is really good, their bonding is really good, there's no drama that I know of so far and I wanted to stay away from all of that. Also it's close to home, it's not too far. I am just kind of starting college off slow, so being close to home mean everything."

Rebel Nation is known for traveling far and wide to support their own, even the ones that have moved on to the college ranks, and Denny-Weber said that will help take off some of the pressure of playing at the next level.

"That will really boost my confidence, I'll be able to play without thinking, 'oh my gosh, I don't know anyone here,'" she said. "I'll have literally my whole family because I know they will come watch me, and that's the best thing ever."

Denny-Weber showed a skill for setting in multiple ways this year, a big reason why she was able to step in and show so well in her first year as the main passer in the G-R offense.

Kelley said Denny-Weber might not have been on many radars for college teams this year, but when she is at her best on the court it's hard not to see a skill that will translate to the college game.

"She has great, steady hands. You cannot deny her hands, so I kind of knew already if that's what she wanted to do, you can train kind of the other stuff," Kelley said. "You can make them smarter, but you can't fix those soft setting hands, so if that was what she wanted to do I knew she could. The more success we had her numbers went up and I think she was hungry for all of that. She decided, 'hey, I can do that,' and once her confidence changed I think then she was ready to take that next step."

The Tigers are losing one of the top setters in the nation in Jelena Dukic, who finished sixth in total assists in the NJCAA Division I with 1,272. Hoskins said Denny-Weber is a girl who could step in and alleviate some of the pain of losing the sophomore setter from Futog, Serbia.

"Jelena is going to be tough to replace, so we are going to have a couple of setters come in and one setter returning," Hoskins said. "We are going to have a competition for that position, and honestly I don't think it will be filled by one person. Having that competition will be a good thing for us and it might end up where we are running a 6-2 as opposed to a 5-1 like we have the last couple of years just based on our personnel right now. It's one of those things where I am looking forward to getting them all on campus on August 1st and letting them figure that out with their play."

Denny-Weber won't be the only local girls in a Tiger uniform next season as she joins South Tama County graduate Sadie Smith, who led MCC in aces and was third in kills last season.

Hoskins said there's been a focus at the school lately to recruit from the schools in their backyard, where there is plenty of talent to choose from.

"Right now at MCC we are definitely in a position where we want to continue to grow," he said. "We are doing a lot of good things on the court but we haven't really done it with local girls, we haven't really done it with building through the community, and I think that's the next positive step for us. We have built the pride in the program, now it's about how to we extend that not just to MCC but throughout the communities in the area."

As for having three girls head to the college ranks in the last two years, and with a few other Rebels looking at joining that list this year, Kelley said her program is right where she wants it to be.

"That just shows you the continuity that we can start having," she said. "Our football program has that same thing, they send four or five years to play in college every year but they also have tons of titles and those kids are up at that level and want that competition. If they want to go on and play that means they are hungry and competitive, and that's the kind of kids you want to play.

"It's also exciting for our younger kids who see this and go, 'I can do that too.'"

Denny-Weber said after a year where she accomplished what she didn't think was possible by getting to the state tournament and finishing third in the class in assists, she is ready to see just how much further she can take her career.

"There were some rough patches in my senior year of volleyball that coach Kelley pushed me past, and I believe that these bigger steps I need to get through coach Hoskins can help me go right through it," she said. "I am really excited."



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