Munkeby closes in on 1,000th kill

VOLLEYBALL North Dakota co-captain nears mark in her career at UND.

Senior co-captain Ronni Munkeby kills the ball over the net. She currently is sitting at 960 kills. File photo.

Imagine 6 feet of solid muscle with a sparkly headband jumping multiple feet in the air, spiking a volleyball straight to the opposing team’s floor for a kill. Afterwards, high fives and screams of delight from teammates ensue.

Now imagine 1,000 moments like that.

Senior co-captain Ronni Munkeby of North Dakota’s volleyball team currently has 960 kills and is only games away from her 1,000th kill.

“It feels … amazing,” Munkeby said. “I think it’s kind of a career mark goal for any athlete. You have your goals you set when you’re young into the program and you look forward to reaching or meeting those goals as the years progress. I think that’s one that I’ve had since I’ve been here, and I think it’s really cool I’m nearing that goal.”

This year marks the middle hitter’s second season as team co-captain, and she said she hopes to use her role to influence fellow players.

“I like to hope that I can kind of mentor the young ones as they get going into the program,” she said. “My theory is kind of just lead by example, so maybe not always being such a vocal leader, but just leading by the actions.”

Putting up numbers

Munkeby’s actions stretch beyond her kills and make up only one of many categories that she excels in.

She has accumulated 366 total blocks, 33 service aces, 20 assists, and 168 digs in her four years of play — and this year’s season isn’t even halfway through.

Munkeby also recently set a career high attack percentage of .800 during last week’s game against Eastern Washington when she had 17 kills and only a single error.

Munkeby is fourth in kills, seventh in kills per set at 2.55, fourth in attack attempts at 2215, tied for second with co-captain Lisa Parlich in attack percentage at .293 and second for total blocks.

It would seem natural to think that an athlete of this caliber would have been chomping at the bit to start playing sports, but not in Munkeby’s case. The Lisbon, N.D., native didn’t even want to play volleyball when sports started in middle school.

“I started in the seventh grade,” Munkeby said. “I can thank my mom for forcing me to go out because I wanted nothing to do with it when I was that young.”

Munkeby’s family continues to support her athletic endeavors.

“My parents still travel to almost all of the away games, my sister and my nieces and nephews here that live in town come to all of my home games,” she said. “My family is super super duper supportive throughout the whole process.”

This year, North Dakota has yet to lose a Big Sky Conference game. The team has won 12 of its last 13 matches and hopes to keep the streak going.

“We’ve really come together this year collectively as a group and have played really well together,” Munkeby said. “Like our coach said, it’s still important to play like we are the underdog — to still have that fight in us. Every opponent in the Big Sky is going to be a challenge, and so it’s important that we go out with the mentality and confidence to win but that we don’t lose sight of the ultimate goal which is winning conference tournament.”

This year is North Dakota’s second in the Big Sky Conference. The fan base has grown a lot in the past years as well, which has had an impact on the players.

“When I first started here … we were over 500, and that was breaking (attendance) records, and now we’re up to over 2,000 so it’s just wonderful to see how the program and the support has grown,” Munkeby said.

Including her redshirt freshman year, Munkeby has been playing volleyball for UND for five years, this season being her last. She already has graduated with a degree in physical education and is enrolled in graduate school.

School has not fallen by the wayside to sports for Munkeby, as she was named the UND Female Scholar-Athlete of the Year among all varsity sports last year.

Although the excitement of playing college volleyball will, like all things, eventually come to an end, Munkeby has a bright outlook on life after the locker room.

“I hope to take my collegiate experience, both athletically and academically, into the classroom or the gymnasium, and I’d also like to coach,” Munkeby said. “I think it’d be fun to get in the gym again and just help other athletes pursue their dreams as well.”

Munkeby will lead the Green and White on the court again Saturday in Flagstaff, Ariz., where they will face Northern Arizona at 9:30 p.m.

Marie Monson is a staff writer for The Dakota Student. She can be reached at [email protected]