Spartans’ Willis repeats as NICL West’s Outstanding Player


For the third time in the last decade, a Grundy Center volleyballer has been named the NICL West Division’s Outstanding Player in consecutive seasons.

Spartan junior Kylie Willis was awarded the conference’s top honor for the second year in a row after helping to lead Grundy Center to the NICL West championship for the eighth time in the last nine seasons.

Willis was one of three Grundy Center players honored on the all-NICL West first team, joined by senior outside hitter Landry Luhring and sophomore utility Emerson Kracht.

In conference play, Willis led the division with a .365 hitting efficiency and 20 total blocks while ranking fourth in service aces (11) and tying for sixth in kills (44). She did not miss a serve in NICL West play, going 55-for-55 to lead the league.

Willis joins former Spartan standouts Riley Sents (2013-14) and Abby Graves (2009-10) as two-time recipients of the league’s top individual honor in the last 10 years.

Willis and Luhring were two of the five repeat first-team all-conference selections. West Marshall senior outside hitter Lexi Keigan and junior outside hitter Catherine Sjoblom were honored for the second consecutive year, as was BCLUW junior outside hitter Easton Swanson.

Swanson led the conference with a whopping 124 kills in six matches, hitting at a .354 efficiency. She served 66-for-72 with six aces, finished fourth in the division with 70 digs and eighth with 12 blocks.

Luhring had a league-best 20 service aces to go with 41 kills and 53 digs, while Kracht earned her first all-conference honor after tallying 66 assists and 41 kills in a split role with the Spartans.

Sjoblom and Keigan both finished in the top five in the conference in kills with 60 and 48 respectively, and Sjoblom was fifth with 67 digs.

A pair of seniors scored their first all-conference accolades with first-team honors. Gladbrook-Reinbeck’s Paige Eiffler and East Marshall’s Brittany Anderson both were honored. Eiffler ranked sixth in the league with 44 kills to go with eight aces, while Anderson led with 121 digs (5.5 digs per set) in conference play.

Grundy Center head coach Lori Willis was named the conference’s Coach of the Year for the second year in a row as the Spartans earned back-to-back state tournament berths.