WELDON SPRING — It's hard to imagine, but one of the area's breakout girls volleyball hitters this season was a defensive specialist just two years ago.
That was the case for St. Dominic junior outside hitter Bree Schreimann, who was a junior varsity libero her freshman season.
“And then last year, I hit right side,” she said. “I worked hard this entire summer and I increased my vertical. I worked out every single day and did vertical workouts any time I could. It all turned out really well.”
Has it ever.
Schreimann was the complement the Crusaders needed for standout senior Audrey Weber and they used that hitting prowess to make their way to the top, as St. Dominic (21-3-1) has advanced to its third final four appearance in school history and will take on Liberty North (22-0) in a Class 5 semifinal at 6 p.m. Thursday at Show Me Center in Cape Girardeau.
“She grew her vertical like five inches this summer and she has been pounding balls ever since,” said Weber, who will play at Lindenwood. “Her arm swing is insane. She always bring the team up with her play. I love having her with me.”
Schreimann recorded a modest 25 kills in 79 attempts (a 0.35 per game average) last season, but those numbers have exploded this season to 239 kills and a 3.19 per game average.
“Last year, she was just kind of a helper player, but this is her breakout year for sure,” St. Dominic coach Courtney Bland said. “The thing about Bree is she is a phenomenal all-around player, but man she hits the ball so dang hard. When she gets a hold of it, you can't even see the ball moving it's so hard.”
Weber has been a hitting machine for four years with at least 179 kills each season. Opponents are keenly aware of that and focus most of their blocking attention on her opening things up for Schreimann.
“She compliments Audrey so well because they don't have break. It doesn't matter who's on our outside,” Bland said. “You can't put anyone up just against Audrey and think you'll take a break when she's in the back row because Bree is every bit the same and can pound balls and place them wherever she wants.”
That was evident in the Crusaders' quarterfinal victory over Francis Howell last Saturday when Weber was held in check the first four games before an outstanding fifth set. Schreimann was there to help ease the load on her team's best player.
“They did a good job shutting Audrey down in the first four sets, but when Bree would rotate to the front row, it was game on again,” Bland said. “And she could go to work because Bree does tend to get the lesser blocker, which is great for her since she's ruthless out there.”
Weber is more than happy to have a powerful hitting sidekick.
“Having her as my opposite has literally been a dream because usually a team has one really good hitter, but if you shut them down, they're done,” Weber said. “However when I go to the back row, she goes to front row and she's pounding just like I am and it's the best feeling in the world.”
Schreimann said much of her growth as a hitter can be attributed to Weber.
“I have looked up to her since freshman year. To play her opposite is a dream come true,” Schreimann said. “I've learned so much from her. She's not only taught me just the different skills of hitting, but she was always there for me, cheering me on. She's a great teammate.”
Bland said the biggest difference she's noticed in Schreimann from last year to this year is confidence.
“One hundred percent. All high school girls need it and they all find it their junior year,” Bland said. “Last year, she could do that at practice. She just couldn't do it in a game. She's just really worked hard on her mental game and being a super positive kid.”
Schreimann is excited about the opportunity to possibly help St. Dominic to its first girls volleyball state title after a Class 3 third-place finish in 2008 and a Class 4 fourth-place showing in 2017.