Athlete of the week: Kara Ziemer, Elk River, volleyball: Around the dial

by Bruce Strand, Sports editor

Watching Kara Ziemer trot onto the volleyball court with her Elk River teammates, you might have her pegged as a good back-row player, and you’d be right. But once the action starts, this compact, 5-foot-8, 130-pound athlete turns out to be a furious attacker, too, from the outside hitter slot.

Throw in a nasty if erratic jump serve and you’ve got a player who can produce all around the dial.

“Kara is very powerful and we direct our outside offense to her,” said coach Pam Gothe. “She is an all-around player. She has a lot of experience both on varsity and club, so as a senior she is a mature, confident and consistent player. You know she is going to deliver if you get the ball to her.”

Kara Ziemer, Elk River’s 5-foot-8 attacker, has 745 career kills and excels in the back row as well. (Photo by cMichaelStudio)

The piston-legged Ziemer leads the Elks (16-11) with 317 kills and ranks second with 195 digs. She’s an 81 percent server with 23 aces.

“She has her offensive game, and she has her defensive game, too,” said Gothe. “She is one of our best at passing, receiving, and defense, and from the paint, too, serving.”

Ziemer is blessed with a 23-inch vertical and good hang time, so despite giving away a few inches to most blockers, she’s able to hit over, around or through them consistently. It also helps that her leap and arm swing are both seriously fast.

“My jumping helps me a lot. I try to hit off their hands so it goes out of bounds. Or hit around them,” said Ziemer, who is especially adept at hitting the ball down the line.

In a four-year varsity career, two as a full-time player, Ziemer has logged 745 kills, 555 digs and 104 aces. She was named team MVP last year when she broke out with 263 kills  and team-leading totals of 217 digs and 608 serve receives.

Recently Ziemer has dealt with a stress fracture in her foot and then an ankle sprain. She missed four matches and was limited to front row and unable to jump serve for a time. Last weekend she was cleared to play full bore again at the Alexandria tournament and rattled off 51 kills in four short matches (three-gamers).

“She is definitely our stat leader,” said Gothe, “and when we don’t have her, it significantly impacts our offensive stats.”

Ziemer is icing her foot every morning and after games. “I can jump just as well,” she said. “It just hurts more afterward.”

Asked her favorite part of volleyball, she said, “Kills. And the bus rides! They’re fun and we do a lot of bonding.”

Ziemer, who plays club the rest of the year with M-1’s of Bloomington, is getting some D-II attention, although at that level they want their outside hitters to be taller. “I could play back row. I’d do that,” said Ziemer, knowing that her tenacious digging could land her in D-II  if her hitting doesn’t. Or, Gothe said, she could “easily” play all the way around in D-III.


Kara Ziemer

Personal file — Age: 17 … Family: parents, Mike and Lori; brother, Kyle, 14 … Sport: volleyball … Academics: 3.4 GPA …. College  plans: undecided where, volleyball, physical therapy or athletic trainer
Favorite stuff — Class: human anatomy … TV show: “Criminal Minds,” college football games … Movies: Disney fare, especially “Mulan” … Food: any Chinese, especially wontons … Reading: “Hunger Games” … Athlete: Misty Mae Traenor … Kickback: fishing, tubing … Would like to visit: New Zealand