Squiers Lives Up To Bruin Setter Standards
By Dan Silvia, Communications Manager
Trish Siedlik, Bellevue University’s Head Volleyball Coach, doesn’t ask much of her freshman setters. Just replace the All-American that came before you.
Maddie Squiers was up to the task last season, earning second-team NAIA All-American honors from the American Volleyball Coaches Association (AVCA) in addition to being named the AVCA NAIA National Freshman of the Year. Squiers stepped into the setting role vacated by the graduation of thee-year starter Beth Walker, a third-team All-American herself.
“I was pretty nervous. I knew I had big shoes to fill,” Squiers said. “The first few weeks of practice were pretty rough, but then I got into the rhythm and I knew that they chose me for a reason.”
Squiers came into the Bruin program with a pedigree. She is the daughter of Rick Squiers, the head volleyball coach at the University of Nebraska-Kearney, a highly accomplished program at the NCAA Division II level.
Squiers may have been under-recruited with many coaches assuming she would go to UNK.
“I think some coaches did believe she would come to UNK, but she was also a bit of a late bloomer as a setter,” Rick Squiers said. “By the spring of her club season she was starting to play at a pretty high level. We had a freshman setter in our program, so the timing wasn’t ideal for Maddie to come here. It did feel strange seeing her go elsewhere.”
Siedlik was among the coaches assuming Maddie Squiers was out of reach, but the younger Squiers reached out to her to open up the recruiting process.
“I thought there's no way. There's no way we're gonna get this kid,” Siedlik said. “So we just happen to get an email one day and I wrote (Assistant Coach Steve Field) and I'm like ‘Oh, my gosh! Maddie Squiers wrote us.’ "
Papa Squiers was able to keep tabs on his daughter’s progress throughout last season while leading his own squad to a 35-2 record.
“I was able to see one match live and several others online. Bellevue does a great job with the livestream and radio broadcast. I watch as many as I can – including some of the road matches. Very nerve wracking!” he said. “I don’t think her first year could have gone much better. It’s very hard to play any position as a freshman, let alone set for a program like Bellevue and follow in the shoes of an All-American like Beth. I think the coaching staff did a great job of bringing her along and allowing her to gain some confidence. It was fun to watch her progress.”
After Squiers’ standout freshman season, Siedlik is receiving calls and emails from other potential recruits who want to play with a setter who can get them the ball.
“When we have recruits, we always mention her,” Siedlik said. “She’s our ambassador right now. Who would not want to play with a setter that's already all-American, that's already one of the best in the country?”
The Bruins posted a 32-12 record in 2016 including a 13-3 mark in the North Star Athletic Conference. The team also advanced to the NAIA National Tournament last year. This year’s team is ranked 20th in the preseason poll, but behind NSAA rivals Viterbo (No. 6) and Jamestown (No. 17).
After opening the season on the road at the Big Sky Challenge in Butte, Montana, the Bruins will host the Premier Labor Day Classic, Sept. 1 and 2, at the Lied Center in Bellevue. With 22 teams competing, the tournament is the largest gathering of teams in the NAIA outside of the national tournament.
Siedlik said the squad will be looking to make it back to the national tournament this season.
“We got a taste of going back to the national tournament last year,” Siedlik said. “Our goal is to return to the tournament this season and advance out of pool play. We have 10 returning players which helps. Our conference is very competitive, which should set us up well.”