By Josh VanKlompenburg
MARSHALL – She might not admit it, but Casie Baer has set a standard of excellence wherever she plays.
The 2009 Independent Player of the Year helped lead Canby – a program that won just five matches when Baer was starting on varsity as an eighth grader – as high as No. 2 in Class A as a senior in 2011.
Now a senior at Minnesota State-Moorhead, Baer enters today’s match against Minnesota-Crookston just 39 set assists away from becoming the ninth Dragon in program history to surpass 2,000 career set assists.
Perhaps the highlight of her career to this point came on September 11 when she recorded a career-high 62 set assists against Grand Valley State.
“Our team was playing as a unit,” Baer said. “It makes my job easier as a setter when it doesn’t matter which hitter I set to because they will get the kill, and that’s what was happening. This season, in general, I think that is one of our biggest strengths.”
Coming into the season, her single-match high was 38 set assists and her highest single-season total was 570, both coming in 2014.
Part of Baer’s increased success can be attributed to her increased role on the team. She is the primary setter in 2015 after splitting duties in her first three seasons.
She credits learning behind more experienced setters as a reason for her growth.
“Splitting setting duties has made me the setter I am today because the talent that Anna Olson and Sam Sullivan had was incredible,” Baer said. “Learning from them each day made me the best that I can be.”
Her current role helps to change things on the fly when necessary, while also keeping continuity.
“If something needs to be changed I can change it that second instead of waiting for my next rotation on the court,” Baer said. “It has also given our team a rhythm and being able to have the same sets for the hitters makes it easier for them as well.”
Looking back, Baer credits her work ethic to her time in Canby. She finished with 3,567 set assists as a Lancer, and believes she brought competitiveness and an ambition to always work hard into her college career.
“I owe a lot of my hard work and dedication to my high school coaches and teammates,” she said. “Amy Wagner believed in my ability to succeed as a volleyball player when I was very young. She taught me how to better myself and give 100 percent effort each day I step on the court.”
Four years since she suited up for Wagner and the Lancers, Baer tries to keep up with the Canby program whenever she can. She says it’s not always easy to do with her busy schedule and the limited broadcast options available for high school games.
“You can bet that Canby volleyball is going to have a big fan next year, and I wish them the best luck for the rest of the season,” Baer said. I know they can go far if they all set their minds to it.”
As for her current team, MSUM currently sits at 11-3 overall and 4-2 in Northern Sun play. Baer and the Dragons will play in Marshall against Southwest Minnesota State on Oct. 23.
Originally published: Oct. 3, 2015