Thiesse commits to play for BLC

Martin Co. West senior spiker to play volleyball at collegiate level

Martin County West hitter Karlee Thiesse elevates before cranking a spike for a winner during prep volleyball action last fall in Trimont. Thiesse will play volleyball for Bethany Lutheran College in the upcoming fall. (Photo by Greg Abel)

Martin County West senior athletic standout Karlee Thiesse has taken the first steps toward a collegiate volleyball career.

Thiesse has signed a letter of intent to play volleyball for the Bethany Lutheran College Vikings starting in the fall of 2019.

Thiesse said she chose Bethany Lutheran over Saint Scholastica and Gustavus Adolphus College because she thought Bethany would be a better fit for her.

“I really liked the coaches and I thought it would be a really good place for me,” Thiesse said. “I like the small campus and I’ve heard really good things about the teachers. I just think it’s going to be a really good fit.”

Along with volleyball, Thiesse played basketball and is currently in her senior softball season for the Martin County West Mavericks, but she said volleyball has always been her favorite of the three sports.

She said growing up watching her sister (Kate Thiesse) helped develop her love of the game.

“When I was young, I got to watch my sister go to state two times when she was a junior and a senior,” Thiesse said. “I got to watch her and fell in love with it (volleyball) and fell in love with watching her play. I knew that’s what I wanted. I have just loved it my entire life from watching her play and then getting to play myself, I fell in love with everything about it.”

Martin County West co-head volleyball coach Hilary Elliott said in her time coaching Thiesse and watching her play, she could see Thiesse’s development as a leader and her strengths on the court.

“Her leadership had come a long way in high school,” Elliott said. “She really grew as a player and a leader.

“Karlee was an excellent server, we knew we could always trust her to go behind the line and be tough. She was also really good in the back row and could dig out some tough spikes, but I think serving was her biggest strength.”

Thiesse said the Maverick coaches put in extra time to help her become a better all-around player throughout her career, but she saw the most improvement in her hitting and approach.

She said the help she received when changing from a standard serve to a jump serve helped both her and the team.

While her serving is one strength, Thiesse said she sees her persistence as her best attribute on the court.

“I don’t give up and I don’t get down,” Thiesse said. “I try to keep everyone positive and just keep working even if we’re down.”

Thiesse’s persistence in high school was shown through her team-leading performances.

During her senior season last fall, Thiesse helped lead the Mavericks to a 10-16 record with her team-leading 144 kills and 31 aces on 237-for-258 serving, giving her jump serve a 91.9 percent success rate.

Thiesse also led the team with 34 solo blocks and finished second on the Mavericks with 275 digs.

Thiesse was named the Sentinel’s All-Area co-player of the year during her senior season alongside Maverick teammate Madison Klima.

After years of learning and growth in high school, Thiesse will get new instruction, which Elliott said will help her continue to grow in college. Elliott said the college game is much faster than in high school and Thiesse will have to adjust.

“She’ll have a chance to learn a lot,” Elliott said. “College ball really is a change, I think the speed of the game will really increase for her, but she’ll always try hard and do her best to be a good volleyball player.”

Thiesse said she’s looking forward to the opportunity to continue developing her game in college and learning from new people. She said making new friends and getting to know more people will help her build her game.

Thiesse said the friends she made are her favorite aspect of high school volleyball.

“I loved being with my teammates, the friends you make,” Thiesse said. “When I was a freshman, I became really good friends with seniors and I sometimes still talk to them. If it wasn’t for volleyball, I wouldn’t have made those friendships.”