Kearney, Neb – Nebraska-Kearney head volleyball coach Rick Squiers announced today that Emma Murphy and Gracie Stienike will play for the Lopers this fall. Murphy is 5-7 setter and defensive specialist from Spearfish, S.D., with Steinke a 5-11 outside hitter and middle blocker from Gothenburg. Previously, UNK added defensive specialist and libero outside hitter Sammi Mach (North Platte H.S.), Lindsey Nottleman (Lincoln Pius X), and setter Maddie Squiers (Kearney Catholic H.S./Bellevue U.) to its 2018 roster. The Lopers had five seniors and one graduate transfer on its 2017 roster in setter Katy Ernest (Dalton), outside hitters Connar Newberry (McKinney, Texas), Ali Scheil (Estes Park, Colo.) and Kaitlynn Thomas (Yutan), defensive specialist Emma Schroer (Ogallala) and middle Tara Ziegelbein (Lincoln).
“We have enhanced what was already a very solid 2018 recruiting class and we may have another player or two to add to the fold soon. Practice should be very competitive in the fall and we look forward to watching things come together,” said Squiers. For Spearfish High, Murphy was a basketball, volleyball and track letterwinner. She was part of a Spartans volleyball team that won two league titles and reached the state tournament once. A two-time all-conference selection and team MVP, Murphy had 535 assists, 255 digs, 136 kills, 56 aces and 28 blocks as a senior. In the classroom, she is a four-time Honor Roll qualifier a National Honor Society member. “Coming from a coaching family, Emma is a skilled and fiery competitor who won us over at summer camps. She is an outstanding floor director and problem solver who gives us depth as a setter or passer. We look forward to her high energy contribution in the fall,” said Squiers. Murphy comes from an athletic family as her parents, Shane (basketball) and Jill (track), both were student-athletes at the University of South Dakota. Mr. Murphy also was a men’s college basketball coach, working at USD, Sioux Falls and Dakota Wesleyan.
Coached by former Loper track standout Bryson Mahlberg, Stienkie is a 12-time letterwinner for the Swedes in basketball, volleyball and track. She is an honorable mention Class C-1 all-state pick in both basketball and volleyball and leaves with the GHS career scoring record (1,159). Also named first-team all-conference in both sports, Stienike tallied 321 kills, 100 digs, 70 blocks and 22 aces as a senior. She has been selected for the Wildwest All-Star game and also been tabbed for three different basketball all-state games. “Gracie is the ideal multi-sport athlete who can really blossom once she turns her full attention to volleyball. She is an explosive and versatile attacker who can play in the middle or on either pin. We are excited to have such a talent from a local program joining us,” said Squires. UNK went 33-4 in 2017, winning the MIAA Tournament title, sharing the MIAA regular season title and reaching the NCAA Tournament for a 19th straight year. Finally, the Lopers were ninth in the final AVCA Top 25 poll.