NEW PALESTINE — It would be easy for Allison Dennemann to become curious. It would be even easier for the junior to lose count.
Kill after kill, Dennemann was an unstoppable force this season for New Palestine, which reached the final four of Class 3A. But according to Dragons head coach Kelli Whitaker, Dennemann has never — not even once — questioned her about the number of kills she had after a match.
The answer would center around the number 18.4 — the amount of kills Dennemann averaged per match this season. Totaling a mind-boggling 700 kills in all, the University of the Pacific commit led the state of Indiana and finished 14th in the entire nation. She had a season-high 40 kills against Franklin Central on Sept. 26.
Story continues below gallery
“For her, it is doing what the team needs,” Whitaker said, who was named 3A Coach of the Year. “She just goes out and performs for the sake of the team. I have never heard her ask what her stats were.
“I think that says a lot about the player she is. That is what’s special about her.”
For her accomplishments, Dennemann was named ICGSA First Team All-State, a Junior Indiana All-Star and made the All-Hoosier Heritage Conference team. In addition, Dennemann has been named the 2016 Daily Reporter Volleyball Player of the Year as voted upon by the coaches and sports staff.
Well-rounded as she is skilled on offense, Dennemann also had a season to remember on the defensive side of the ball. She collected 476 digs, which also ranked first on the team. She added 54 aces and 52 blocks in an outstanding all-around season.
But how did Dennemann go from 465 kills as a sophomore to 700 as a junior? She credits the considerable jump to playing up an age level with her Circuit City Volleyball Club. Girls who are even just one year older, Dennemann said, are much faster to the ball.
“I had to learn a lot more shots,” she said. “It is hard to put ball down on the other side (against that speed). It has definitely helped with my hitting and defense. Everything is coming a lot faster. Coming back into high school, having more experience helped.”
The training she does during the offseason also played a factor in her development. With an increased vertical (35 inches) and improved conditioning, Dennemann, was able to remain productive throughout the entire season — especially when it mattered most.
In fact, she was playing some of her best volleyball down the stretch during New Palestine’s (27-11) semistate run. Dennemann had 27 kills and 27 digs against Cardinal Ritter in the regional title win — the first in school history — and tallied 29 kills and 30 digs in the semistate semifinal win against Northview.
In the team’s final game against Providence, who lost to Yorktown for the 3A state title, Dennemann collected 17 kills and 13 digs in a 3-0 loss.
“If she were to have bad nights, we would struggle,” Whitaker said. “But she really didn’t have a bad night. She was great every single night.”
Her kill total, Whitaker understandably assumes, is the most in program history. A former New Palestine player herself, Whitaker said her 503 kills in one season was the most she had heard of until this season.
Dennemann, who averaged 6.2 kills per set, topped the state’s second best hitter, Hannah Towne of Rochester, by 53 kills. She ended the year with a .382 hitting percentage and a 49.6 kill percentage.
The best part of all is that Dennemann will be back next season. Although, topping 700 kills will be a challenge in itself. But it’s not like Dennemann is counting.
“I wouldn’t underestimate her,” Whitaker said.
Interestingly enough, Dennemann has yet to lift a single weight with her upper body, which she plans to start this offseason. Her swing, already powerful, will get better.
Certain goals keep her motivated, too, including starting as a freshman in college — a rare feat in Division I.
“There is a lot to go still,” Dennemann said. “There is always work to be done.”
Allison Dennemann, New Palestine
Stats: 700 kills, 476 digs, 54 aces, 52 blocks, 6.2 kills per set, 18.4 kills per match, 49.6 kill percentage, .382 hitting percentage
Awards: First Team All-State, Indiana Junior All-Star, All-Hoosier Heritage Conference
College: University of the Pacific (Division I) commit
Club: Circle City Volleyball Club