High School Sports

She’s far from the tallest player on the court, but she casts a large shadow for LC

Lynden Christian senior Hannah Rusnak, right, spikes past Lakeside’s Keeley Morrison during the Class 1A state championship match Nov. 12, at the Yakima Valley SunDome.
Lynden Christian senior Hannah Rusnak, right, spikes past Lakeside’s Keeley Morrison during the Class 1A state championship match Nov. 12, at the Yakima Valley SunDome. For The Bellingham Herald

Looking at her statistics – 402 kills and a .360 hitting percentage – you’d never guess Hannah Rusnak stands just 5-foot-7.

Outside hitters who average more than five kills per set usually measure at least 5-10.

“It’s pretty intimidating – I’m not going to lie,” Rusnak said. “At the net, I do feel pretty small. You just do whatever you can.”

As the stats would suggest, Rusnak fared pretty well among the trees, as she helped lead Lynden Christian to a third consecutive Class 1A state championship match.

“If she wouldn’t have gotten hurt in that championship match, I think we could have won it,” Lyncs coach Kim Grycel said of a sprained ankle Rusnak suffered in the third game of a 3-1 loss to Nine Mile Falls Lakeside last month. “It was really tough to see her go out like that.”

Rusnak was selected the All-Northwest Conference MVP, and the senior can now add The Bellingham Herald’s All-Whatcom County Volleyball Player of the Year award to her résumé.

Not bad for an athlete who admits volleyball is her second sport.

Rusnak is being courted by a handful of Pacific-12 Conference track and field programs, including Washington, which she plans to visit next month. She won three state titles as a sophomore and finished top three at state in the 100 meters, 100 hurdles and long jump last spring.

“You see this girl run around the court so fast and jump so high,” Grycel said. “She just flies. There’s no other way to put it – she just flies. She makes it to balls that you thought nobody would get. ... She has so much body control. I’ve had a lot of tall hitters, but none with her speed.”

Grycel said she saw Rusnak’s ability as a freshman and played her with a fairly veteran group that season. The next two years she played big roles in helping lead the Lyncs to back-to-back state titles.

As a senior, she was given the tall task of leading a relatively young squad by example – a role Grycel said Rusnak filled naturally, “coming to practice every day, ready to go and ready to work – she brought so much intensity and competitiveness.” And she expected the same out of her teammates.

“It was definitely different,” Rusnak said of the leadership role. “It was good to see how other players looked up to me. We have some huge players coming up, and they’re going to be great leaders. It was a fun experience to be asked to do that. Volleyball was such a fun time and a big part of my life.”

Now that she moves on to focus her abilities on the track in college, Rusnak leaves a hole that won’t be easy for the Lyncs to fill on the volleyball court.

“Hannah is one of those special people that you have come through, and the four years just flew by,” Grycel said. “We’re going to miss her presence – her being who she is. She brought so many intangibles.”

All-Whatcom County Volleyball Players of the Year

2005: Kara Bergerson, Mount Baker

2006: Jessi Roberts, Lynden

2007: Jessi Roberts, Lynden

2008: Jessi Roberts, Lynden

2009: Andrea Vicic, Lynden Christian

2010: Jasmine Hommes, Lynden Christian

2011: Jasmine Hommes, Lynden Christian

2012: McKenzie Impero, Nooksack Valley

2013: Taylor Lyall, Sehome

2014: Kara Bajema, Lynden Christian

2015: Kara Bajema, Lynden Christian

2016: Hannah Rusnak, Lynden Christian

2016 All-Whatcom County Volleyball Team

Player

School

Yr.

Pos.

Emmallee Bailey

Lynden Christian

Sr.

L

First-team All-NWC selection ... Helped Lynden Christian reach the Class 1A state championship match for a third straight year ... Averaged 2.95 digs per set and had a dig percentage of .574 ... Only missed eight serves 322 attempts.

Abbi Broussard

Lynden

Jr.

MB

Second-team All-NWC selection ... Helped Lynden win a play-in match in the Class 2A bi-district tournament ... Recorded 28 aces, 201 kills and 43 blocks.

Avery Dykstra

Lynden Christian

Jr.

OH

Second-team All-NWC selection ... Helped Lynden Christian reach the Class 1A state championship match for a third straight year ... Was LC’s No. 1 serve-receive passer and recorded 192 kills this season and 2.65 digs per set.

Katrina Gimmaka

Nooksack Valley

Jr.

MB

Second-team All-NWC selection ... Helped Nooksack Valley advance to the Class 1A Northwest District Tournament ... Versatility played large dividends, as she moved to setter two matches into season ... Averaged five assists and one ace per game.

Kylie Honrud

Ferndale

So.

MB

Second-team All-NWC selection ... Helped Ferndale place eighth at the Class 3A State Tournament – its first state trophy since 1992 ... Recorded 271 kills (2.95 per set), 42 blocks (0.46 per set) and 33 aces (0.4 per set).

Jocelyn Johnson

Bellingham

Sr.

MB

Second-team All-NWC selection ... Helped Bellingham finish runner-up at the Class 2A bi-district tournament and advance to state for the first time since 1991.

Sophia Lawrence

Bellingham

Sr.

L

First-team All-NWC selection ... Helped Bellingham finish runner-up at the Class 2A bi-district tournament and advance to state for the first time since 1991.

Abby Miller

Squalicum

Sr.

S/OP

Second-team All-NWC selection ... Helped Squalicum finish runner-up in the Class 3A Northwest District Tournament to advance to state ... Filled out a stat sheet, as she contributed in just about everything ... Averaged five assists per game, one kill per set and one block per set.

Hailey Pelton

Ferndale

So.

S

Second-team All-NWC selection ... Helped Ferndale place eighth at the Class 3A State Tournament – its first state trophy since 1992 ... Recorded 32 aces (0.4 per set) and 870 assists (11.92 per set), despite missing two weeks due to injury.

Emma Schroder

Squalicum

Jr.

MB

First-team All-NWC selection ... Helped Squalicum finish runner-up in the Class 3A Northwest District Tournament to advance to state ... Posted a .389 hitting percentage with 4.17 kills per set.

Whitney Walker

Ferndale

Sr.

OH

First-team All-NWC selection ... Helped Ferndale place eighth at the Class 3A State Tournament – its first state trophy since 1992 ... Recorded 54 aces, (0.6 per set), 415 kills (4.56 per set) and 190 digs (2.09 per set) ... Will play beach volleyball for NCAA Division II Texas A&M-Kingsville next year.

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