Athlete of the week: Jordan Moening, Elk River, volleyball: Country gusto
by Bruce Strand, Sports editor
Jordan Moening thrives on deer hunting, pickup trucks, Jack London novels, catching fish, and palling around with boys. Her most girly pursuit is volleyball, and even there, what she enjoys most is firing off serves like a cannon.
“I’m a tomboy,” the ebullient Elk River senior cheerfully admits. “The girls always call me a ‘hick’ because I like country music and I like to drive loud trucks and go huntin’ and fishin’ and hang around with the guys. But that’s OK!”
Prize possessions include her 12-guage shotgun, grey snakeskin cowboy boots, a black lab hunting dog named Buck (whom she named after the hero of “The Call of the Wild”) and a cat named Rambo. As an athlete and sportswoman, she’s a criss betweeb Pete Rose and Jeremiah Johnson.
Coach Pam Gothe, asked what she likes best about Moening, said: “Her determination, and the way she always fights back. The kids call her ‘The Beast!’ Nothing will get her down.”
The fearsome jump serve is Moening’s most visible skill. In fact, she ranks No. 2 in the state with 90 aces, according to Minnesota Sports Online. But she contributes with gusto all around the rotation, ranking third on the team in both kills with 125 and digs with 142. Physically powerful at 5-foot-5 and 150 pounds, she’s small for a hitter but holds her own at the net. And she’s always willing to dive for a ball.
Moening realized in grade school that she had a potent arm. Intent upon maximizing her serving prowess, she started working on the jumper during JO’s with help from coach Brian Johnson. Getting more accurate each year, she has logged 159 aces and counting in her career.
From across the net, she has a menacing way of hitching her body forward and torquing into the ball as she soars to strike it. When she lands one, she can’t help bounding and clenching her fists and yelping for joy though just briefly.
“The crowd loves it,” said Gothe. “She brings a lot of energy to the gym. She pumps us all up.”
Moening was wracked by fever last week but insisted on playing against Osseo and managed the best-ever serving match, 32-for-32 with 12 aces, in a four-game loss.
“I get such an adrenaline rush (in games) that I’m able to block everything out,” said Moening. “I don’t see the crowd, I don’t feel anything. I take a deep breath and focus where I want to go.”
The 13-9 Elks are a small team depending on aggressive serving and gritty defense. Moening is the nastiest server in a lineup with six players in double-digits and 237 aces in all. Going for broke at the stripe, like she does everything else, Moening will miss a few, but her 86.2 percentage is up several points from last year.
As a career highlight, she listed a harrowing 3-2 loss to No. 9 Centennial on Sept. 9. “We were really on the top of our game, in the fight of our lives,” said Moening, who had a career-high 14 kills as they took the Cougars to five games. “We were so close.”
Also a club swimmer in grade school before having to choose in seventh grade, she works as a lifeguard at the water park at Otsego Holiday Inn.
Moening comes from a hunting and fishing family. With her father, uncles and brother, she hunts deer every year in the Melrose area where her parents grew up, and has bagged four white-tails so far. “We clean them up ourselves and make them in to jerky,” said Moening. Fishing is a year-round passion. “Anywhere, and any kind of fish,” she says.
All those experiences add up to a confident, aggressive student/athlete.
“She is leader for us as well, so mature for her age,” said Gothe.
Moening lists her next goals as playing college volleyball, a business career, and, in 10 years, being married with kids.
THE MOENING SCORECARD
Personal file — Age: 17 … Family: parents Chris and Renee; brother Cole, 14; sister Alisha, 10 … Sport: volleyball … Academics: B-plus, A-minus .. College: undecided; major in finance/accounting/business, probably volleyball
Favorite stuff — Class: math, financing … Movie: “The Shooter” … Reading: Jack London novels … Food: venison steak and mashed potatoes … Drink: any soda … Team: “Honestly, my brother’s freshman football team.” … Music: country … Athlete: Jared Allen … Kickback: fishing and hunting … Place she’d like to visit: Australia