SMSU VOLLEYBALL: Mustang volleyball announces six signings for 2021

MARSHALL — Southwest Minnesota State University head volleyball coach Terry Culhane announced Thursday that six high school standouts have recently signed letters of intent to continue their academic and volleyball careers at SMSU.

Joining the SMSU program for the 2021 season include Kaitlyn Bingham from Oconomowoc, Wis., Gabby Fredrickson from Detroit Lakes, Saari Kuehl from Reinbeck, Iowa, Brooklyn Kusler from Aberdeen, S.D., Emma VanHeel from Otsego and Natalie Welch from Mount Vernon, Iowa.

“We have added six players who are determined to compete for opportunities to get on the court and help our team excel as one solid unit,” Culhane said. “Their athleticism and willingness to improve as players certainly will be a big plus for our team. We are excited about their flexibility in the game of volleyball and what all six will bring to the Mustang program. They are excellent students and excited about being a part of the Mustang family.”

Bingham, a 5-foot-10 outside hitter, is a senior at Oconomowoc High School for head coach Michelle Bruss. A team captain this season, she is a four-year scholar athlete, all-conference honoree and was named honorable mention all-state in 2020. Bingham hit .269 this season with 135 digs and finished her career with 619 kills. She helped lead Oconomowoc to a No. 3 state ranking during the 2020 season and a runner-up finish at the 2019 Division I State Tournament.

Fredrickson, a 5-foot-10 middle blocker, is a senior at Detroit Lakes High School for head coach Lynnsey Wimmer. She is an all-conference honoree and AAU volleyball Academic All-American. She is also a standout in track & field, earning all-conference accolades and academic all-state honors.

Kuehl, is a 6-foot senior, outside hitter at Gladbrook-Reinbeck High School for head coach Paula Kelley. A four-time all-conference and all-state honoree, she helped lead Gladbrook-Reinbeck to a 34-3 record and a Class 1A state runner-up finish this fall. She recorded a team-high 22 kills in the state title match and was named to the state all-tournament team. Kuehl holds the school record with more than 1,550 career kills and also amassed 1,032 career digs. An academic honor roll recipient, Kuehl is also a multi-year letter winner in both basketball and track & field. She placed fourth in the high jump at the 2019 state meet.

Kusler, a 6-foot outside hitter, is a senior at Aberdeen Central High School for head coach Jackie Bindenagel. Kusler, a three-time team captain, has earned both all-conference and all-state honors in her career. This season she has helped lead the Golden Eagles to the Class AA state tournament, which begins on Nov. 19. Kusler recorded 19 kills and 14 digs in Aberdeen’s SoDak 16 match versus Mitchell on Nov. 12. A four-year letter winner and Midco Player of the Year finalist, Kusler has amassed a hitting percentage of .342 with 386 kills, while also adding 241 digs this season. An AVCA Under Armour All-American, she enters the 2020 state tournament with 1,136 career kills and 843 career digs. Kusler is also a standout in basketball and track & field, earning all-conference and all-state honors in both sports.

VanHeel, a 6-foot senior, is a middle blocker at St. Michael-Albertville High School for head coach Tammy Cornelliz. She was named all-conference as a junior and helped the team advance to the section championship match, before losing to the eventually state championship team. This season, (as of Nov. 16) she has 94 kills and a .313 hitting percentage with 41 blocks. VanHeel has racked up 288 kills and nearly 100 blocks in her career.

Welch, 6-foot outside hitter, is a senior at Mount Vernon High School for head coach Maggie Willems. Welch, a key member of Mount Vernon’s Class 3A state championship team in 2019, helped the Mustangs make a return trip to the 2020 state tournament, recording 32 victories and a state runner-up finish. A four-year letter winner and all-conference honoree, she recorded nine kills in the 2020 state quarterfinal victory, but missed the final two matches due to COVID quarantine. She was also a member of a club team that won a national championship in the summer of 2018. A member of the academic honor roll, she is also a four-year letter winner in track & field.

— Content courtesy

of SMSU Athletic



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