G-R's Kuehl earns Outstanding Player in All-NICL West volleyball honors

Gladbrook-Reinbeck's Saari Kuehl (center) earned the Outstanding Player award in the All-NICL West volleyball teams released this week. Kuehl has been selected to the All-NICL West team all four years of her high school career. (Jake Ryder photo)
Jake Ryder
The Grundy Register

Gladbrook-Reinbeck’s Saari Kuehl earned NICL West Outstanding Player honors in the 2020 All-NICL West volleyball teams released this week.


In five division matches this season, Kuehl, a senior, smashed 65 kills with a 22.0 percent attacking efficiency to go with 93 digs while also landing 10 ace serves on 55-of-66 serving. Kuehl, along with NICL West Coach of the Year Paula Kelley, led the Rebels to a three-way tie for the NICL West title and their second state-tournament berth in the last three seasons, carrying a 32-2 overall record to the Class 1A state tournament at the Alliant Energy PowerHouse in Cedar Rapids.


Kuehl is the first player from a school other than Grundy Center to win the award since Aplington-Parkersburg’s Kaitlyn Mohwinkle won the award in 2015. Kylie Willis was a three-time winner and Emerson Kracht won the award in 2019. Kuehl is a four-time all-NICL West pick, with three straight seasons on the top team.


Sophomore Megan Cooley joins Kuehl as a Rebel first-teamer. Cooley was second in the division in attacking efficiency (25.5 percent) with 42 kills and was tied for second among division players with 16 total blocks, including six solo stuffs. 


Grundy Center also had a pair of first-team selections in senior Abby Hamann and junior Lainy Thoren.


Hamann led the NICL West in kills per set (5.7) with a 23.7 percent attack efficiency. She added 4.1 digs per set and was tied for the second-most ace serves in West action with 12 aces on 53-of-66 serving. Hamann was also a first-teamer in 2019.


Thoren was the most efficient attacker in the West, landing 25.6 percent of her attacks with 36 kills and 15 total blocks against West competition.


AGWSR sophomore Brynn Smith moved from the second team last season to the first team this season after hitting 3.1 kills per set with 4.1 digs per set to go with 11 total blocks.


BCLUW had the other area NICL West selection in senior Lizzie Garber, earning her second first-team selection after terminating 2.8 kills per set and adding 2.9 digs per set.


Second-team selections included Grundy Center senior Jacque Kuester and freshman Carlie Willis; Gladbrook-Reinbeck sophomore Emma McClintock and senior Alyssa Morgan; BCLUW junior Eden Wilson; AGWSR senior Taylor Sperfslage. Sperfslage is a three-time all-NICL West pick after two consecutive seasons of earning honorable mention.


Honorable mention went to Grundy Center freshman Ellery Luhring, AGWSR senior MaKenna Kuper, BCLUW junior Emma Averill and Gladbrook-Reinbeck sophomore Ava Wyatt. Wyatt was a second-team selection last season.


2020 All-NICL West Volleyball Team


Outstanding Player – Saari Kuehl, sr., Gladbrook-Reinbeck


Coach of the Year – Paula Kelley, Gladbrook-Reinbeck


First team

Saari Kuehl, sr., Gladbrook-Reinbeck

Abby Hamann, sr., Grundy Center

Jaidyn Teske, jr., South Hardin

Brynn Smith, soph., AGWSR

Lizzie Garber, sr., BCLUW

Ellie Anderson, soph., South Hardin

Megan Cooley, soph., Gladbrook-Reinbeck

Lainy Thoren, jr., Grundy Center


Second team

Jacque Kuester, sr., Grundy Center

Eden Wilson, jr., BCLUW

Emma McClintock, soph., Gladbrook-Reinbeck

Emma Salvo, jr., South Hardin

Taylor Sperfslage, sr., AGWSR

Alyssa Morgan, sr., Gladbrook-Reinbeck

Jacqulyn Westendorf, sr., East Marshall

Carlie Willis, fr., Grundy Center


Honorable mention (area only)

Ava Wyatt, soph., Gladbrook-Reinbeck

Ellery Luhring, fr., Grundy Center

Emma Averill, jr., BCLUW

MaKenna Kuper, sr., AGWSR


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