LANGDON, N.D. -- Callie Ronningen already had established herself as a standout player when she joined the Langdon volleyball program as a freshman in 2016. That didn’t make it easier to join the tradition-rich Cardinals program.
“I was excited, happy going in with the new co-op,’’ Ronningen said. “I knew they had a great program. Langdon always was one of the teams to beat in our region. But I was a little intimidated, wondering how I’d fit in.’’
The fit has turned out to be perfect after Edmore switched from its co-op with Lakota to join Langdon-Munich.
In her first three seasons as a rotation regular with Langdon-Edmore-Munich, Ronningen has helped the team to three berths in the North Dakota Class B state high school volleyball tournament. She was all-region as an eighth-grader with Lakota-Edmore and for the past three seasons with L-E-M. Ronningen was an all-state pick each of the past two seasons.
Ronningen joined some elite company recently when she registered the 2,000th kill of her career -- 1,674 with the Cardinals and 389 with Lakota-Edmore. She’s fifth on the Cardinals’ list of career leaders.
Ronningen also is on the verge of 2,000 career digs (1,950, of those 1,529 with the Cardinals) and 500 career blocks (268, all but 18 with the Cardinals).
“Callie has been a huge factor in all of our last three region championships,’’ Cardinals coach Rich Olson said. “I don’t know if we would have won those without her. She’s a dynamic player.
“Callie is one of the best all-around players I’ve coached. She’s good at every spot in the rotation she’s played.’’
Ronningen’s all-around game had Olson considering a big change this season. After all-state setter Madi Pritchard graduated last spring, Langdon-Edmore-Munich had a need at the position. Olson said he considered taking Ronningen out of hitter’s position to set.
Instead, however, Calyn Crockett -- a regular hitter in 2017 who missed almost the entire 2018 season due to a knee injury -- came back this season and shifted to setter. She’s running the offense for the 19-3-1 Cardinals.
“I considered Callie as our setter,’’ Olson said. “I thought she’d be an all-state caliber setter. But that would have taken her out of serve receiving, and she’s so good at that. And Calyn has played well. That’s worked out well.’’
The idea of switching to setter intrigued Ronningen. It may have cost her a shot at 2,000 career kills, but hitting isn’t the most satisfying part of her game.
“I wanted to set,’’ Ronningen said. “People always say the setter is the team’s quarterback. I thought it would be cool to do that.
“I’ve always said I like playing defense more than hitting. The feeling you get digging up a great hitter’s kill to me is a better feeling than getting a kill yourself.’’
The milestone 2,000th kill wasn’t even something Ronningen was aware of beforehand. When she tipped a shot for a point and fans and teammates started cheering, it surprised her.
“I didn’t think it was that great of a kill,’’ Ronningen said. “But (teammate) Morgan Freije looked over and said, ‘Congratulations on your 2,000th kill.’ I guess the whole team knew I was getting close except me. I’ve had a lot of help getting there. We’ve had great setters and great diggers.’’
When it comes to hits, blocks and digs, Ronningen is in some exclusive company in the Cardinals’ program.
Senior Callie Ronningen is climbing up the career leaders list in several categories with the Langdon-Edmore-Munich volleyball program. Here’s where she ranks (overall stats include her seasons with Lakota-Edmore).
Kills -- 1. McKenzie Hart 2,194; 2. Briana Stremick 1,948; 3. Madi Hart 1,809; 4. Justine Stremick 1,790; 5. Callie Ronningen 1,674 (2,063 overall).
Digs -- 1. Madi Hart 2,330; 2. McKenzie Hart 2,113; 3. Janae Klindt 1,879; 4. Taylor Hart 1,594; 5. Sydney Ellingson 1,546; 6. Breanna Mack 1,537; 7. Callie Ronningen 1,529 (1,950 overall).
Blocks -- 1. Briana Stremick 452; 2. Justine Stremick 400; 3. McKenzie Hart 309; 4. Christy Schauer 289; 5. Callie Ronningen 250 (268 overall).
Service aces -- 1. Madi Hart 601; 2. Jacki Hansel 518; 3. McKenzie Hart 400; 4. Katie Lorenz 374; 5. Jordyn Worley 364; 6. Callie Ronningen 342 (418 overall).