Southwest Minnesota State head volleyball coach Terry Culhane announced the signing of four student-athletes for the 2013 season, including two middle blockers, an outside hitter and a libero.
Bailey Kirchhoff of Tripoli, Iowa, Sarah Parker of Edwardsville, Ill., Nicole Schmidt of Mayer, and Jessica Thelemann of Le Sueur have all signed letters of intent to continue their academic and athletic careers at SMSU.
Kirchhoff is a 5-foot-7 libero who was a three-year letterwinner for Tripoli High School. She helped lead her team to Iowa state championships in 2010, 2011 and 2012 and was named to the all-state tournament team in 2011 and 2012. She was also named first team all-state in 2011 and 2012, and second team all-state in 2010. Kirchhoff finished her career with 849 kills, 198 serves aces and 720 digs. She also competed in track and field, basketball and softball, and was a member of the National Honor Society.
"Bailey is a good athlete from an extremely successful high school program," Culhane said in a press release. "... She is a great teammate and will strengthen our back row play. She is very competitive and possesses good ball control skills."
Parker is a 6-1 middle blocker who was a four-year letterwinner at Edwardsville High School. She earned second team all-conference honors as a junior and first team honors as a senior. Parker broke eight school records and competed in the Illinois State All-Star game. She was honored as the "Fall Sports Player of the Year" by the Alton Telegraph and named first team all-state in 2012. She was a three-time all-academic all-conference honoree and also competed in basketball and track and field.
"She plays with passion and has excellent commitment to the game of volleyball," Culhane said of Parker. "Sarah is a hard worker and comes from a quality high school program. We look for Sarah to continue to excel as a front row player during her college career."
Schmidt, a native of Chaska, is a 6-foot outside hitter who was a four-year letterwinner at Mayer Lutheran High School. She was a three-time all-conference selection and participated in the Minnesota State All-Star game as a senior. She was named the MVP of the Minnesota River Conference and was selected to the all-metro team in 2012. Schmidt ended her high school career with 1,260 kills, a .325 hitting percentage, 578 digs and 222 ace serves. She was a two-time all-state selection and member of the National Honor Society.
"Nico (Nicole) is a great teammate from a successful high school program," Culhane said. "We feel Nico's best volleyball is ahead of her. Her aggressive style of play and work ethic are great attributes she will contribute. She has experience as a six-rotation player and will be versatile enough to play at either antenna."
Thelemann is a 5-11 middle blocker and a four-year letterwinner at Le Sueur-Henderson High School. She was a three-time all-conference and two-time all state selection. She set school records in career kills (1,088), kills in a single match (33) and single season kill per set average (5.8). She had 330 kills as a senior to go with 203 digs, 29 blocks and 26 ace serves. She also competed in basketball and softball.
"Jess is a versatile, all-round player," Culhane said. "Her athleticism and competitiveness will fit in well at SMSU and in the NSIC. She comes from a solid high school program, has been well coached and has good club experience."
The SMSU volleyball team finished the 2012 season 30-3 overall and won its first Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference regular season title since 2001, along with its first-ever NSIC Tournament championship. The Mustangs will graduate three seniors, including outside hitter Brooke Burmeister and middle blockers Mary Groth and Devin Diedrich.