SAULT STE. MARIE, Mich. – Lake Superior State volleyball head coach Dave Schmidlin has announced that three more student-athletes have joined the Laker roster for the 2019-20 season.
In addition to six individuals who signed their national letters of intent in Fall 2018, two more incoming freshmen have also signed their NLIs this spring, with a sophomore transfer also joining the squad.
Rachel Beelen, an outside hitter from Rudyard, Michigan, most recently played for Rudyard High School. She was named most improved in 10th and 11th grades and received multiple accolades in her senior year, including First Team EUP, First Team Straits, Academic All-State and an honorable mention by the Volleyball Coaches Association. Her team garnered Academic All-State honors, First Team EUP and First Team Straits Area Conference in 2018, a district championship in 2017 and 2018, and a regional championship in 2017.
Coach Schmidlin on Beelen: "Rachel is another local kid who is a really athletic diamond in the rough. Athletically, she reminds me of current LSSU player Sarah Bailey. I noticed Rachel early in the fall when I went to see Rudyard play. Apparently, she had a growth spurt in the last year, so she literally came out of nowhere. She has a fast arm swing and is pretty quick. I really like that she also runs track, so she has the fast-twitch athleticism we look for. We plan on redshirting Rachel immediately and training her as an outside hitter. I believe after a year in our gym and weight room, Rachel will have a chance to get acclimated to the college game and could really take off from there."
Off the volleyball court, Beelen also competed in basketball and track and field in high school, earning team MVP for basketball in 10th grade and team MVP for track and field in both 10th and 11th grade. She was involved in Book Club and Art Club in ninth grade, student council from ninth to 11th, and Students Leading Students, Michigan Industrial and Technology Education Society (MITES) and National Honors Society in 12th grade. She is a member of Lake State's class of 2023 and will major in mathematics and engineering.
Kayla Wilhelms, a defensive specialist from Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan, most recently played for Sault Area High School. She joins her sister Katja Wilhelms, who will be a sophomore this upcoming season. Kayla served as team captain her senior year and was named to the Petoskey All-Tournament Team, First Team All-Conference and All-Region. From 2016-18, she was named Academic All-State.
Coach Schmidlin on Wilhelms: "Kayla adds depth to our defensive specialist group, joining her sister, Katja. I've watched Kayla play volleyball, basketball and soccer the last two years, so I know she is extremely competitive. Kayla has the foundation and drive to develop into a very good player for us down the road. It will also be nice to have a little sibling competition in our gym. I also love that Kayla is from the Soo. With Katja and Kayla being part of our program, they will help grow the game locally and serve as great role models for the younger players in this area."
Kayla also competed in soccer and basketball for four years, as well as football for one year. In soccer, she was the team captain from 10th to 12th grade and was the offensive player of the year in 2016 and 2017. On the basketball side, she was team captain during her senior season, second team all-conference in 2016-17 and an honorable mention in 2018-19. Outside of athletics, Kayla is a member of Business Professionals of America, National Honors Society, Youth Advisory Council, Student Government, Students United, Junior Rotary and Chippewa County Community Foundation.
Rylee Eisenga, an outside hitter from McBain, Michigan, most recently played for Alma College. Before starting her collegiate career, she played for McBain High School and at the junior level for Central Volleyball Club. While in high school, she was named all-conference and all-region in 2015-17, all-area in 2016-17 and led the team in kills in 2017. Her team honors for McBain High School included a conference championship in 2016-17, a district championship in 2015-16 and Academic All-State honors in 2015-17.
Coach Schmidlin on Eisenga: "Rylee comes to us with a year of college experience under her belt. Due to a change in her academic goals, Rylee was looking for a good academic fit and wanted to continue playing. Rylee is a close friend of current LSSU player Camdyn Odykirk, so, we know she will fit in with our group. She is a very good all-around player with excellent ball control and adds to our depth at the defensive specialist position, and if needed, she can play outside. Mt. Pleasant has been a good pipeline for our program and Rylee continues that tradition."
Outside of volleyball, Rylee also competed in basketball at the junior varsity and varsity levels during high school from 2014-17. She will be a member of Lake State's class of 2022, majoring in social work.
All signings are contingent upon admission to Lake Superior State and compliance with NCAA rules, including certification by the NCAA Eligibility Center.