Cullen Maksimowski, LSSULakers.com
SAULT STE. MARIE, Mich.—Lake Superior State volleyball coach Dave Schmidlin has announced the signing of six players who will join the Laker program for the 2018 season.
Schmidlin, who was hired as the eighth head coach in school history in March 2017, has brought in a group young talent to lead a new era of Laker volleyball.
"The focus for the 2018 recruiting class was two-fold," said Schmidlin. "First and foremost, we needed to have a taller presence at the net in order to compete in the (Great Lakes Intercollegiate Conference).
"Secondly, since we are graduating two middles, two right sides and a setter, we had to build depth at those positions. With this early signing period, we have fulfilled both of those needs. This class will have an immediate impact on our program moving forward."
The 2018 recruiting class is comprised of two middle blockers, two outside/middle hitters, a setter and a defensive specialist. Five of the six signees hail from the Great Lakes State.
Bethany "Jo" Wilson fits the Schmidlin's taller presence mold to a tee. The Midland, Mich., native stands six-foot-three and has been a consistent force at the middle blocker position over her high school career and led the Chemics with 166 total block in her senior season.
"Jo has a high volleyball IQ, is a very good blocker and attacks well along the net," Schmidlin said. "I think Jo has the potential to develop into a dominant middle in the GLIAC. She's a great fit for Lake State, both academically and athletically."
Camdyn Odykirk (6-foot) of Mount Pleasant, Mich., is the other projected middle blocker of the class who Schmidlin describes as "fast and competitive". Odykirk was a three-sport athlete for the Oilers and own the school record for career blocks.
At the outside/middle hitter positions, LSSU welcomes Kelly Walter (6-foot) of Coloma, and Antonina "Nina" White (6-foot-1) of Chelsea, Mich. Walter
"Kelly is long, fast, athletic and driven to succeed," said Schmidlin. "I expect Kelly to have an immediate impact on the program, both athletically and culturally. Kelly can play in the middle or on the pin; her versatility will provide us with some flexibility as we assess our team in the fall.
"Nina will provide us with depth in the middle and right side. As her power and quickness improve, Nina should develop into a very effective player for us down the road. Her blocking skills are very good and she is good in transition. This seems like the perfect fit for both Lake State and for Nina, both academically and athletically.
Rounding out the 2018 class is setter Halle Gulke and defensive specialist Abby Beachnau.
"Halle comes from a small school and a small club but she has a big game, Schmidlin said. "She is a versatile athlete. Although she is coming in as a setter, she is also an effective attacker.
"Abby is very athletic and extremely versatile. At 5'7", she is actually athletic enough to play at the net. She can set, hit and is a great back row player. We have Abby slotted to play back row next year, but, if needed, it's nice to know Abby can move to another position and perform at a high level.
Camdyn Odykirk/ Middle Blocker/ 6-0/ Mount Pleasant, Mich./ Mount Pleasant High School
A four-year letter winner in volleyball, basketball and soccer...Volleyball: All-Conference 2015-16…All-Region 2016…AAU 18U state championship 2016…Owns Mount Pleasant High schools' all-time block record (2015-16) …Named All-area Top Blocker in 2016 by MI Prep Zone…Volleyball team MVP in 2016.Soccer: All-conference 2016…Basketball: Coaches award 2017.
Abby Beachnau/ Libero/ 5-7/ Gaylord, Mich./ Gaylord High School
A two-year letter winner in volleyball, four-year letter winner in softball and ski & snowboard…Earned all-area honors in 2016…First-team all-conference 2017…Recorded 147 kills, 16 blocks 91 digs and 166 assists in her senior season…Snowboard Cross: Two-time National qualifier placing 7th and 9th.
Kelly Walter/ Outside Hitter/ 6-0/ Coloma, Mich./ Coloma High School
A four-year letter winner in volleyball, two-year letter winner in basketball and track & field…Volleyball: First-Team All-Conference 2014-17…All-Region 2016-17…Third-Team All-State 2016…Basketball: All-Conference Honorable Mention 2014…Track & Field: First-Team All-Conference (High Jump) 2016.
Halle Grulke/ Setter / 6-0/ Hustisford, Wisc. / Hustisford High School
A four-year letter winner in volleyball and 2014 letter winner in basketball…Volleyball: First-Team Conference 2014-17…Conference Player of the year 2016…Two-time WVCA All-State Honorable Mention…Helped lead Hustisford to two conference championships…Team captain 2015-17…Team MVP 2015-17…Finished High school career with 1,011 kills, 1,556 assists and 856 digs…Played for Fusao Volleyball Club out of Sun Prairie, Wisc.
Antonina White/ Outside Hitter / 6-1/ Chelsea, Mich./ Chelsea HS
A four-year letter winner…All-Conference 2016…Nominated for All-Region in 2017…Led team with a .321 hitting percentage and was second on the team with 246 kills in 2017…Played for Huron Valley Volleyball Club.
Bethany Wilson/ Middle Blocker/ 6-3/ Midland, Mich./ Midland High School
A four-year letter winner in volleyball and track & field…Volleyball: Second-Team All-Conference…Two-time district champion…Two-time regional champion…Led the Chemics with 166 total blocks in 2017…Played club volleyball for the Michigan Elite Volleyball Academy.