was given the shot to sit on the bench for the Kickapoo (Springfield, Mo.)
varsity team's postseason volleyball run last season after finishing her junior varsity season.
Aurentz didn't play, but she watched and soaked in the intense action at the next level, preparing for her junior year.
With the new season upon her, Aurentz had a fresh slate and a goal — make the varsity squad and earn valuable playing time.
"I just knew that I'd have to come back with more intensity and prove that I deserved to have the spot on the team and that I could be a contributor to the team," Aurentz said.
Aurentz, who started playing volleyball in fifth grade, showed head coach Marci Johnson not only that she belonged at the varsity level, but the 16-year-old even won the starting nod as a right-side hitter.
"There were opportunities for several people to step up and be what the team needs them to be and I knew from the beginning her competitive nature would put her in the mix with those kids," Johnson said. "She's just shown that she can be that person that can mix the tempo and get us some kills when we need it. She's competitive and she wants to win."Learn more about the MaxPreps US Marines program at www.maxpreps.com/marines
Aurentz also owns another important volleyball trait — confidence. That stems from her success in her main sport, track and field. In her first two years in high school, she's placed top three at state in the shot put.
At 5-foot-8, Aurentz isn't an intimidating front-row volleyball player for Kickapoo, but she often outsmarts her opponents in a little chess match at the net.
"I'm really good at finding the open shots," Aurentz said. "Since I lack the height, I'm good at seeing where the perfect tip is, or if there's a hole in the block, and just placing it on the court. Not so much a really hard kill, but a smart kill."
Johnson uses Aurentz as a three-rotation player.
"The instinct for a hitter is just to pound to the floor and there's a lot of ways to get a kill," said Johnson, the head coach. "She's really explored all those tools, I guess, and she's got a lot of things up her sleeve. She's learned how to roll shot and be very sneaky with it. She's deceptive whenever she's going to hit it hard."
So far this season, Aurentz has tallied 119 kills in 68 sets and is fourth on the team with 1.8 kills per set. Those numbers might not seem staggering, but she's a vital component of the Chiefs' offense.
"I think I'm doing really well," Aurentz said. "I was a little nervous coming in because varsity's a different pace, but I'm really liking it and have been getting a ton of kills and good blocks."
When volleyball season wraps up in November, Aurentz goes right into playing for Club Bear Volleyball. She hasn't competed in a winter sport in the past, but she's considering powerlifting, a new sport being offered by Kickapoo this year.
Powerlifting would certainly prepare Aurentz for track and field. She was an All-State recipient in the shot put the past two seasons, and also throws the discus.
"I'm not a big fan of discus, because every element has to go right for it to be a good throw. If you screw up one thing, the whole entire throw goes downhill," Aurentz said. "But in shot put, if something small goes wrong you can muscle it out there. It's just easier ... technique-wise. It's a lot easier to have more confidence in that when I step into the ring and I know I can put it out there no matter what."
Aurentz has perfected her technique in the shot put. As a freshman, she placed third in the Class 5 state meet. That season, she shattered the school record of 38 feet, 8 inches.
As a sophomore, Aurentz finished runner-up at state in the shot put, tossing a 44-01.25. She also came in ninth in the discus (117-04) to help her team place third overall.
With last year's state shot put champion having graduated, Aurentz has one goal this season.
"I'm really hoping I can take gold," she said.
Aurentz is not only a great athlete, but also excels in the classroom. Coming into her junior year, she had a weighted grade point average of 4.8. Remarkably, that only ranks Aurentz about No. 48 in her class of over 350 students.
She's involved in several school clubs, including National Honor Society, Fellowship of Christian Athletes, Health Occupations Students of America and the K-Club, where Aurentz volunteers reading books to kids and visiting the Ronald McDonald House.
Aurentz is heavily involved in a unique program called CoxHealth Medical Explorers. Students ages 15-20 who are accepted can shadow nurses and doctors at an area hospital. During the winter, Aurentz logs two to three rotations per week. The program gives her an inside look into what it's like to be a nurse practitioner, a profession Aurentz would like to pursue. She hopes to mix that career choice in with working with kids.
"I like to help my community and make people feel good," Aurentz said. "I like to see people smile because of something I contributed, even if it's just something small. I volunteer a lot with my church, so I work with the kids and kind of spread the love I know to them."
Aurentz loves interacting with youth and enjoys coaching young volleyball players at camps.
"I don't hesitate putting her in charge of a station," Johnson said. "I know she's going to say what we want her to say and basically be an example of the program. She does it with a smile on her face. She has fun working with those kids, and they have fun learning volleyball around her."
Aurentz has logged close to 200 volunteer hours in her first two years of high school. One activity close to her heart is volunteering annually at her church camp, which she has been involved with since she was a third-grader.
"I looked up to all our volunteers and they made a huge impact in my life where I am today," Aurentz said. "So, I really want to give back to the kids that go through that camp, because I know how much they impacted me. I want to be the person they remember helped them and made them who they are."
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