By Brenden West Assistant Sports Editor
The Clinton Herald
---- — CLINTON — A second Clinton High School volleyball player has made an NCAA commitment. Marquel Schultheis, a 6-foot, 1-inch senior middle hitter, will take her talents to West Virginia next fall, where she will join the Division II Davis & Elkins College Senators on scholarship.
To River Queens head coach Mark Massey, it’s another demonstration of hard work paying off in his program. During a Thursday morning news conference at the school library, he said Schultheis has devoted years on the court and in the classroom to reach this level.
“I’m not going to put a number on the years because you guys all know you work incredibly hard to get to this point,” Massey said to an audience of players and family. “Marquel has obviously been an outstanding student at Clinton High School academically, as well as an outstanding student leader. Somehow she’s found time to be an outstanding volleyball player.”
In 2012, Schultheis finished second on the team with 43 total blocks behind fellow senior Alyssa Wing and third in kills with 94. She helped lead Clinton to a 21-10 record last season, highlighted by a five-set victory over the Bettendorf Bulldogs, the eventual Class 5A state champs who later beat the River Queens in the regional final.
Wing will play at the University of Nevada-Las Vegas (UNLV, a Division I) next fall, and she attended the event congratulating her teammate. Massey added other players may follow with commitments in 2013, including junior setter Monique Harris (who has made a verbal commitment to play at Iowa State University).
Thursday, though, belonged to Schultheis. Massey credited her with helping to build on-court chemistry for a team that was one win away from making the state tournament. Davis & Elkins, he said, will receive an intelligent player capable of delivering big points in big games.
“Over the last two years she’s really shown growth and improvement as a blocker,” Massey said. “The thing that we preach to the middles is you can make a good block and never touch the ball. She gets that — she’s an intelligent player. She knows how to read hitters and get the block where we want it.”
Parents Carie and Tim expressed pride in seeing their oldest child have the opportunity to play college athletics.
“It’s been a long road,” Tim Schultheis said, adding the family has made long trips for tournaments and practices. “She’s been working at volleyball ever since sixth or seventh grade through clubs. We’re incredibly proud of her.”
Schultheis plans to double major in biology and education and said Davis and Elkins fulfills academic and athletic goals. She’s been calling the college “a little big school” according to her parents.
“I was hoping to be able to play volleyball, but it wasn’t so important to me where I was,” she added. “The opportunity arose, so it was a lot more exciting than just going to walk on a team.”
As an added bonus, the Senators’ coach, Ashley Pappas, is an Illinois native. Schultheis said she connected with the staff by reflecting on Midwest life.
She believes she’ll be comfortable knowing she has the support of her hometown and thanked everyone involved in her signing day news conference.
“I think it’s really nice to have that added support,” Schultheis said. “I’m not big on the whole big event thing, but I’m glad that they were able to share it with me.”