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Supremely athletic Krieser steps into spotlight heading into senior year

By Jacob Knabel on Jun. 19, 2024 in Women's Basketball

It wasn’t until the back half of her high school career when Abby Krieser began to see her future come into focus. As a prep freshman, Krieser just knew she was going to someday play softball in college – or so she thought. College basketball and softball coaches alike were checking in and keeping tabs on what direction she would go. Ultra-athletic and gifted, Krieser enjoyed a senior year that saw her hit .396 in softball and average 14.2 points per game in basketball while starring at Lincoln North Star High School.

One of those coaches who was paying attention was Concordia’s Drew Olson. Initially, he got the sense that Krieser would end up playing softball. Once she shifted her plans, Olson and his staff made Krieser a high priority in their recruiting approach. Her skills and character made her a perfect fit.

“The obvious would be her extreme athleticism,” said Olson of what stood out. “She’s so fast. She’s an incredible defender and we want to be an elite defensive team. To me, she’s the best defensive player in our league. Then there are the other things. She’s an incredible teammate. She’s selfless. It’s never about her. It’s always about the team. She’s become better as a leader and has gotten better at being more vocal. She really leads with her work ethic. You see it in how she’s developed. She worked her tail off to become a much more consistent 3-point shooter.”

Three years into her journey as a Bulldog, Krieser can feel vindicated in her decision making. That’s not to say she could have gone wrong with either basketball or softball. It’s more about the experience she’s enjoyed within one of the very best small college basketball programs in the country. This past season, Krieser averaged 9.3 points per game and earned Second Team All-GPAC honors while helping Concordia advance to the NAIA national round of 16.

Beyond the winning, Krieser and the 2023-24 Bulldogs always appeared to be having a blast with one another. It’s that type of camaraderie that helped draw Krieser into Concordia. Says Krieser of this past season, “It was a lot of fun. We all fed off each other. We all hang out outside of basketball. They’re all my best friends and being out on the court with them is the best time. We knew if something didn’t go our way, we would pick each other up.”

The atmosphere surrounding the program and the Concordia campus caught Krieser’s attention as she pondered her future. Abby’s older sister Alana had played softball at Peru State College. Naturally, that was one place Abby considered. Ultimately, she chose Concordia and made it official with a social media post on Oct. 1, 2020. Plenty of factors played a role in that choice, including her high school coach Ellen Jorgenson.

“Over time, I started thinking I don’t think I can live without basketball quite yet,” Krieser said. “I remembered going to camps with Coach Olson and how amazing the atmosphere and culture is here. That was a big reason why. I also wanted to stay close to home so my family and friends could make it to the games. When I came here on a visit, I absolutely fell in love. I knew it was the right place.”

Krieser admits that it took some time for her to gain footing and build confidence from an on-court perspective. As a freshman, she saw action in 17 games and immediately showed an ability to thrive as defensive force within the full-court press. Krieser grew more and more comfortable as she got acclimated to her teammates and a faster style of play.

As Olson discussed, Krieser went to work. She made it a priority to become a better shooter while preparing to play much bigger minutes as a sophomore in 2022-23. It’s also clear when looking at the photo Krieser tweeted from her college announcement in 2020 that she has grown physically stronger through her dedication in the weight room. In February of 2023, Krieser displayed just how much she’s capable of as an all-around player when she scorched Doane with a 23-point outing bolstered by 5-for-7 shooting from 3-point range.

Krieser has also aspired to be a student of the game. When Olson advised that she watch NBA players Jrue Holiday and Jaylen Brown, Krieser tuned in. She already was a fan of the NBA, particularly the Los Angeles Lakers and LeBron James.

Says Krieser, “Olson would have individual meetings with us. He definitely boosted my confidence in telling me what I was capable of. That made me want to work harder and want to get in the gym. Getting in the gym was probably the biggest factor in becoming a better offensive player. I absolutely love defense and I love getting steals and the adrenaline rush that comes with that, but working on my offensive game in the gym helped a lot.”

Just like it does for most, the first few years have gone by fast for Krieser, who can’t quite grasp the fact that she’s about to be a senior in college. She’s no longer the freshman trying to figure things out. She’s a leader, especially in the example she sets from a work ethic perspective. The key for Krieser is to keep up her same level of defensive tenacity while continuing to grow her game offensively. With four-year standouts like Taysha Rushton, Sadie Powell and Mackenzie Toomey moving on, Krieser will team up with fifth-year guard Kendal Brigham for a lightning quick backcourt in 2024-25.

Even some of the very best players to ever be coached by Olson have been unable to duplicate the type of awe-inspiring scoring binge Krieser enjoyed in this past season’s GPAC tournament championship game at Dordt. Krieser rang up the team’s first 15 points (in less than five minutes). She was feeling it. Says Kreiser, “I was hitting shots and just kind of chucking them up there honestly, and my teammates were finding me. I just kept shooting and they were going in.”

As a new twist this past academic year, Abby had her younger sister Aubriana join her at Concordia. As the all-time home run leader in Lincoln North Star history, Aubriana chose to sign on with Coach Brock Culler’s Bulldog Softball program. Abby wasn’t afraid to put in a good word for Concordia as Aubriana went through the recruiting process.

“She knew she wanted to go to a smaller school that was closer to home, just like I did,” Abby said. “She would talk about Culler and how much she loved him as a person and the love he had for the game. She really admired that about him. I also definitely persuaded her a little bit. I told her how much fun I have had here. You meet so many people, not just on your sports team. It’s a really fun campus and a great culture that Concordia has here.”

Abby will soak up one more year within the campus community while primed for the best basketball of her career. She plans to be more aggressive in looking for her own shot. Says Olson, “We want to get AK to the point where we can get her the ball in this spot, and she can go get a shot for herself. I think that’s the biggest thing she’s been working on this summer.”

The work this summer will allow Krieser to make the most of one final season – one that might just put the K-12 Physical Education major under more of a national spotlight.

“I know it’s going to go by super fast just like the other years,” Abby said. “I’m going to try to hang out with all of my teammates and be in the moment every game. I’m going to play every game like I’m never going to play again because I really do want to get back to Sioux City and make it farther than we did last year.”