September 2, 2021 – By NJP

Maddy Oehme is one of the premier middles in the Shore Conference. The 6’1″ student athlete will enter her senior year for Donovan Catholic this week. The Griffins are coming off an outstanding Spring campaign where they finished 8-2 but they lose many of their star players to graduation. You would think this would be a rebuild year, but NJP fully expects their younger players to rise up and show off their talents as Donovan Catholic continues their winning ways.

Oehme is a seasoned club volleyball player at OCVBC. She played for their 17 National team this past Spring and brings a world of talent to the floor. Maddy is a beast on the block. She has soft hands at the net and great direction on her blocks. She has solid reach and a strong vertical that makes it so difficult for attackers to get past her rejections.

Maddy can also put the ball away on the attack. She has a powerful swing and used it this Spring to slam 40 kills. We expect that number will rise substantially this year as she finishes out her high school career.

The Kulpinski to Oehme connection will be prevalent this Fall and will produce a ton of points for the Griffins. Donovan has eight Ocean VBC club players emerging for this season and has earned a Top 50 Preseason ranking from NJP. We expect Barnegat and Pinelands to be their main competition at Shore South B.

Here is our interview with Ms. Oehme…

Hi Madelyn? Thanks for joining the NJP player interview club. Tell us a bit about yourself?

Hi! My name is Maddy Oehme and I am a senior at Donovan Catholic High school in Toms River, NJ. I will be graduating in 2022! I live in Brick Township with my Mom, Dad, my two older brothers, Brian and Patrick, and my two dogs.

How long have you played volleyball and what inspired you to take up volleyball initially?

I began playing volleyball towards the end of my 8th-grade year. I grew up playing basketball, so I never really thought to branch out and try other sports. My mom really pushed me to try out for the middle school team and I ended up loving it. I participated in volleyball camps that following summer to help prepare me for high school tryouts. I was so excited when I made the team at Donovan. As a freshman, I really looked up to the juniors and seniors at the time, and I was definitely inspired by them. I soon realized that my passion and love for volleyball were so strong, and I wanted to play all year round. I challenged myself to play at a higher level and I began playing club about three years ago.

What are your metrics/details? Height, vertical, position, club team, etc. What is your favorite position to play?

I am a 6’1” middle, and I play for Ocean County Volleyball club 17 National team. My favorite position to play is definitely middle. Getting blocks is my favorite feeling, as a middle I have the opportunity to block all three hitters on the other side of the court which is something I am always striving to do. I also love to run quick sets with the setter, being able to change up the set when the defense isn’t expecting is one of my favorite things to do. Although middle is my primary position, I love to play right side as well.

The Griffin - Donovan Catholic High School

Tell us about your Griffin teammates. Who do you expect to be this year’s standout players in the Fall?
My teammates are all some of the hardest workers I know. Everyone works together, lifting each other up, and is open to doing whatever the team needs to succeed. We have a lot of talent on our team this year, but I think some standout players will be my co-captains, Dana Welch, Sydney Wacha, and Laine Kulpinski. Dana Welch is a very versatile player. She is not only a great hitter, but she can pass, block and serve extremely well. She is a very smart player who can read the other team’s defense, allowing her to swing to the perfect spot. Sydney Wacha is the returning libero for the Griffins; she can dig any ball that is coming her way and has really good hands. She uses her speed to her advantage and definitely has a bright season ahead! Laine Kulpinski is a returning 3-year varsity starter. She is an outstanding setter. I have been working with Laine for three years and we have a really strong connection. She can set me any ball and I can always count on it to be perfect. Laine is always hustling and will never let a ball drop. She is one of the hardest workers I know. Last season, she led our team with aces and has a really powerful serve. I can’t wait to see what she achieves this season.

NJP considers you as one of the top players in the state. Do you plan on playing in college? If so, which ones are you looking at? What do you plan to study in college or what is your career path?

Yes, I plan to play volleyball in college. My goal is to study nursing, and my dream job is to be a pediatric nurse.

Tell us your best memories of your junior volleyball year where you led the team in blocks with 12 and slammed 40 kills…

Last year was definitely tough with all the challenges we faced due to Covid-19. Although we only played ten games, we made the most of every opportunity and had an amazing season. Some of my best memories were bus rides to the games, decorating the seniors’ houses for senior night, and playing in a state game. A specific memory that stuck out was from our first game of the season. Before the game, our coach, Coach Jansen, talked to us about the importance of putting up a good block. The other team had some strong hitters, and as a middle, I knew I would have to step up and focus on blocking. When I went into the game, I was so nervous that could feel my heart beating out of my chest. I was able to get my first block and my team went crazy. Their support and cheering made all my nerves turn into excitement and I was able to get two more blocks. During that game, three other players also got a block which continued to bring everyone’s energy up. Our goal going into the game was just to get a few blocks, and my team totaled in six. The energy in that gym was so amazing, and I will never forget that feeling. My team and I understood how lucky we were to have our mini-season and did not take any moment for granted, especially after our season was already almost seven months delayed. This made us grow closer as a team, and we wanted to make every practice, warmup, and game the best it could be. Some of the littlest things created the best lifelong memories.

You have 5 club teammates that we expect to evolve to your starting varsity team at DC. How important is having the synergy of playing for OCVBC 17 National Red and then bringing that to the Griffins?

Having the opportunity to play on the same club team as my teammates at Donovan is definitely a great benefit. We get to play together all year round which helps create a strong connection as well as develop muscle memory, and work on new skills. Laine Kulpinski is my setter on both my school, and club team. This allows us to set goals together and work on them all year. During our OCVBC season, we worked on running different sets to speed up the offense and challenge the other team’s defense. We are so excited to continue working on these sets and build that connection during our school season.

The Griffins lose 6 of 14 varsity players to graduation including top players Ojeda, Franzyshen, Elsey, Dwyer, and Winch. Where do you see the team finishing in the upcoming season?

Although we lost 6 seniors last year, we have some younger players who are extremely talented and are ready to fill those spots. Sophomores Carly Bowbliss and Macayla Linder are two hitters who are constantly improving. They have great ball control and could dominate the front row. I definitely see our team finishing as one of the top teams in the shore. I know it will not be easy to get there, but I know with focus, good communication, and a positive attitude,
anything is possible.

Tell us about your club experience at Ocean VBC…

My experience at OCVBC has been amazing! When I tried out as a sophomore, I was fairly new to the sport, it was my first-time playing club and I was really nervous. My plan was to just try out for the regional team and see how I liked it. After tryouts, the club director called my mom and asked if I would be willing to move up to the national team. My parents and I were definitely surprised, but I was beyond excited and said yes. One of the coaches at the club, Jose Rafel, saw potential in me and wanted me on his 16 National team. The team was so welcoming, and I looked forward to going to each and every practice. Everyone supported each other and before I knew it, my teammates were my best friends. I could not have asked for a better coach. Coach Jose constantly went the extra mile to make sure I could be the best middle possible. Whether it was having me stay after practice to work on specific skills or sending me film to show me exactly what I need to work on, he was able to teach me so much. I am so grateful that Coach Jose saw potential in me at that tryout, if it hadn’t had been for that, I wouldn’t be where I am today.

What is your favorite volleyball story?
My favorite volleyball story came right to mind. Last club season, we played in the Atlantic city volleyball tournament. This was supposed to be one of our last tournaments of the season, but we knew we didn’t want our season to end so fast. After doing really well on day one, we went into day two in the gold bracket. We ended up winning the entire tournament, and we won a bid to the AAU nationals. We were able to choose between Orlando, Vegas, and Phoenix. We choose to compete in the AAU volleyball championship in Phoenix Arizona. We were the first team in our club to win a bid to a national tournament, and we were the only team from the east coach in Phoenix! We got to play lots of tough competition from teams from California, Vegas, and even Hawaii! This was such a good experience for my team and I, and I will never forget it.

What are your other hobbies and interests?

Outside of volleyball, I like to stay super busy. I am the recording secretary of my school’s student council and a member of the National Honor Society. One of my constant goals is to use the leadership skills that I’ve learned through these clubs to be a better leader and captain on the court. I also enjoy being outside, I love hiking and going to the beach. This past summer, I spent almost two weeks out in Utah on a service trip at Zion National Park. The first half of our day was spent working directly with the National Park service to volunteer for the park. We did projects such as cleaning up microplastics, invasive species removal, and greenhouse restoration. In the second half of the day, we were able to hike and explore Zion National Park. This was a great experience!

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