Twin Powers: Wiedel sisters helping power Sailors to regionals
Steamboat sisters set up squad for regionals
Steamboat Springs — Even Abigail and Maritza Wiedel, the senior twin sister setters on the Steamboat Springs High school volleyball team, struggle to come up with ways to tell them apart.
There’s the shoelaces. Maritza wears pink, and that’s the easiest way for coach Wendy Hall to decode the twin sisters who’ve now served as setters on the varsity team for three full seasons.
They take mostly the same classes, share the same social group and like the same movies. They both enjoy hiking and camping, and they both love volleyball.
They cut their hair differently … once, but now it’s all grown back to a basically identical state.
There are no hangups, no strive for independence and no quests to stand out.
“It’s a lifestyle,” Martiza said with a laugh. “We pretty much do the exact same thing all the time.
“It’s like having a best friend that’s your same age … and lives with you.”
And, of course, looks like you.
Abigail’s half an inch shorter, and Maritza wears pink shoelaces, but they’re unabashedly identical, and for years now, they’ve offered the Sailors a double dose of setting expertise on the court.
They’re hoping Saturday to help set the Sailors on the path to the Class 4A state volleyball tournament Nov. 13 and 14 in Denver.
The Sailors begin play in the regional tournament at 11 a.m. Saturday at home against Silver Creek. They will also play Erie about 2 p.m.
Growing into it
The Wiedels came upon their love for volleyball the same way they do everything else — side-by-side. Now, six years later, they’re both still playing, and with many of the same girls who were on their middle school team.
They’re all sisters, the Wiedels said of their uber-tight senior class, which spends time together in the offseason and sweats together during it. Collectively, they’ve matured into young women, and this autumn, they’ve won the school’s first volleyball league championship since 2002.
No one exemplifies that sisterly bond quite like the team’s actual sisters, however.
When they talk about that — or anything, really — they talk over one another, louder and louder, even though they’re rarely disagreeing, and they’re often syncing up words, phrases and even sentences.
Both insist they share a special bond on the court, too. It’s not telepathic; that’d be crazy, they said. But it’s not far off.
It’s more like a sixth sense that their other half is waiting, just out of the corner of the eye, ready to offer support.
“We just know,” Abigail said.
They’ve played the same position since they got into the sport, and they’ve stood out in Hall’s eyes since she got her first long look when the twins were freshman.
They began setting for the varsity offense as sophomores, developed into assets for the team as juniors and now, as seniors, they’ve emerged as true strengths of the team.
“I always knew they had athletic talent, but perfecting that position takes a lot, a lot of work, years,” Hall said. “From day one, they’ve owned it and done everything they can to get better.”
Even as well as they know all their teammates, they acknowledge it isn’t easy learning each one’s habits — but it is critical.
Jenna Miller, for instance, likes a bigger, arching set while Hayley Johnson takes a flatter set.
Their roles have changed, too, at least a little. Maritza has — presumably thanks to that extra half-inch of height — hit more often this year.
In general, however, both have taken big strides and are big reasons why Steamboat’s playing at home Saturday in the regional tournament.
“They’re quarterbacking this team,” Hall said. “They’re making really sound decisions on who to set and when to set them.
“Playing against us is tricky, because they’re so good at spreading the ball out.”
The Wiedels don’t think the season will end Saturday.
“We’ve been waiting for this for four years,” Abigail said. “We want to go and get it.”
Whenever it does, they plan to focus on college.
They’re both interested in pre-med, and they’re both interested in continuing their volleyball careers.
Two schools have climbed to the top of their list: Saint Olaf College and Hamlin University, both in Minnesota. One’s set in a small town south of Minneapolis, the other in the hustle and bustle of Saint Paul.
They’ve yet to hash out which features they consider most important. They don’t disagree on much, but maybe, just maybe, they’ll disagree on which campus is most attractive.
“If we disagree,” Maritza said, “I guess we’ll go different places.”
That’s a thought that causes the sisters, their family and some of their friends to smile, but not because any think a separation is necessary.
“They’re just so good in their own skin,” said Mary Jo Wiedel, their mother.
She laughed, considering her daughters and their strong, healthy bond.
“They’re identical twins,” she said. “They’re BEST friends. Do I worry, further down the line, if they’re ever going to separate? Maybe, but I know they’ll find their way.”
The grin at a thought of a separation at college is more about the idea that it might mean sometime, somewhere, in a volleyball game in Minnesota, the Wiedels might play against one another.
Maybe that’s what will happen.
With these sisters, though, not many are banking on it.
They’re identical, right down to the shoelaces.
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