Syracuse standout gets athletic chance post COVID

Kirt Manion
Syracuse Journal-Democrat

COVID-19 crushed a lot of athletic experiences last year, from high school spring seasons to summer activities as well.

That all felt pretty strange to Syracuse-Dunbar-Avoca High School standout athlete Lily Vollertsen. The soon-to-be-senior at S-D-A didn’t get to travel with her all star basketball team last year, the All Nebraska Attack.

Vollertsen said she has played club sports since the third grade. A year without a full schedule was definitely different.

This year, that experience was allowed once again. And it was greatly appreciated.

“I was pretty excited to get to travel everywhere,” Vollertsen said.

Vollertsen tried out for the All Nebraska Attack, a 17-and-under basketball team sponsored by Under Armor and based out of Omaha. She was picked to play with the top club for her age group.

That top group traveled to three tournament sites this summer, beginning with pool play events in Alabama and Indianapolis and ending with a tournament at Pennsylvania. 

Vollertsen’s team won games in pool play and, as a result, qualified for the top bracket, the Gold Bracket, at the final tournament.

The Nebraska Attack 17-and-under finished 12th out of all of teams which participated nationwide at that age group.

Vollertsen said the summer experience was enjoyable. She got to meet players from all over the country and she matched skills against talented players.

The enjoyment came with some expectation of performance and pressure as well.

Vollertsen said players at the summer games were evaluated by college coaches hoping to find stars for their teams.

Vollertsen said playing collegiate basketball has always been a dream. She wanted to be prepared to show what she could do on the court and impress with her attitude and energy as well.

Vollertsen explained that the coaches were not only looking at players for what they did in terms of stat production, but also were watching how players dealt with adversity, how they supported teammates and how they stayed engaged in the action at times when they were on the bench.

Now that the summer is drawing to a close, Vollertsen will turn her attention to one more series of campaigns with her friends at S-D-A.

It seems as though the seasons will go forward this year with little disruption from COVID-19. That’s the hope anyway after athletic campaigns a year ago that seemed anything but guaranteed.

Vollertsen plays volleyball and track as well as basketball.

She says it’s going to be a little bit bitter sweet this year, since the end of high school is so near for her. At the same time, getting to play with her friends is always a positive. And the results should be good too.

“I think we will have a lot of success in all three sports that I do,” Vollertsen said.

In addition to athletics, Vollertsen is a member of FBLA, National Honor Society and Students of Service. She also helps to organize blood drives at the school.

Lily Vollertsen puts up a shot for the Syracuse-Dunbar-Avoca girls' basketball team in action against Nebraska City last season.