Posted On: 11/29/18 9:46 AM

The Thumb area has become a hot bed for high school volleyball as of late. This season saw five teams notch district titles, four making it to regional final matches and Unionville-Sebewaing reigned supreme this year, making it all the way to the Division 3 finals. With all of the top notch teams emerging from the area, come top notch players. All of these players brought their A-Game this year and lead their teams. Here is your All-Thumb: First Team selections.

Rylee Zimmer, Sr, MB, Unionville-Sebewaing (Player of the Year)

Photo by Huron Daily Tribune

Rylee Zimmer put on a clinic her past four years of amazing volleyball, this year being the icing on the cake. Zimmer not only brought down the house with her immense play, but she did it in history making fashion. Zimmer broke USA’s record of most kills in a single season with 828, tearing down her old record of 808. She’d also lead her squad to their first ever MHSAA State Championship match, losing to 3-time champ, Bronson. Zimmer will bring her star power to the Saginaw Valley Cardinals next fall as a pin attacker.

Season Awards: 1st Team All-GTW, All-Region, 1st Team All-State (D3) and All-D3 Tournament Team. 

Season Stats: 828 kills, .380 hitting percentage, 132 blocks and 537 digs. 

Coach Teresa Rose: “Rylee is just an amazing athlete that has great volleyball IQ. She is smart about when to attack and when not to, she does a great job of finding weaknesses in other teams defenses. She could play any spot on the court and excel at it.” 

Allyson Severance, Sr, OH, North Branch

Photo by Sports Finest Magazine

Another four year power house hails from one of the best volleyball programs in the state. Allyson Severance has been a show-stopper since her freshman year under head coach Jim Fish. During her tenure, she’s led the program to a runner-up finish and state championship during her freshman and sophomore outings, while being stopped by Notre Dame Prep in the Regional Finals the last two seasons. Severance has led the pack for each season, totaling 2297 kills on a .347 hitting percentage over her four years. As well as being an offensive beast, she’s offered up her defensive prowess as well popping up 1386 attacks and knocking down 323 aces. Severance will be playing her collegiate ball at Miami (OH). 

Season Awards: BWAC MVP, All-Region, 1st Team All-State (D2), Miss Volleyball Finalist

Season Stats: 853 kills, .421 hitting percentage, 107 aces, and 381 digs

Coach Jim Fish: “In my mind, she is the most complete senior player in the state.   She also is a fantastic leader and excels in the classroom with a 4.019 grade point average.   She is attending Miami of Ohio on a full-ride volleyball scholarship.”

Kaitlyn Ill, Sr, OH, Millington

Photo by Huron Daily Tribune

In a breakout season for the Cardinals of Millington, Kaitlyn Ill lead the charge. Under new head coach, Michelle Bouck, the Cardinal flew away in the area volleyball scene. The Lady Cards would see their season be amongst the best in program history, tying most wins in a season, going 42-8-5. In huge thanks to Ill, she’d knock down 552 kills on a .365 hitting percentage, while bringing up 314 digs in the back court. She’d lead her team to a Regional Semis before losing to eventual State Runner-Up, Unionville-Sebewaing. Currently unsure of where, but look for Ill to bring her power to a collegiate team next fall.

Season Awards: 1st Team All-TVE, All-Region, and 2nd Team All-State (D3)

Season Stats: 552 kills, .365 hitting percentage, 314 digs and 58 aces.

Coach Michelle Bouck: “Kaitlyn is an impressive player in all aspects. Her hitting is awe-inspiring, and she holds her own in the back-row as well. She’s one of our top 2 on serve receive. Kaitlyn also steps up defensively with 3 pancakes on the season and in the top 3 in digs. She is also very knowledgeable about volleyball, especially individual skill development. Other girls would look to her for help to improve hitting and passing.”

Kendal Muxlow, Sr, OH, Brown City

Photo by Huron Daily Tribune

Don’t count her out. After such an injury, like that of an ACL tear, it’d be quite something to bounce back from. Leave it to Kendal Muxlow to leave her opponents in total awe. She’d lead the Green Devils to another deep post season run, all the way to a Quarter-Final five-set thriller versus eventual Runner-Up USA. This would cap off a stellar career for the star as this would be her third time playing to at least the Quarter-Finals, picking up four consecutive conference and district titles along the way. During her career, she put down 1566 kills on a .254 clip and bringing up 1178 digs. As amazing she is on the volleyball courts, she will most likely be bringing her talents to a collegiate basketball program next year.

Season Awards: 1st Team All-GTE, All-Region, and 3rd Team All-State (D3)

Season Stats: 443 kills, .331 hitting percentage, 466 digs, 68 aces

Coach Jenna Welke: “Kendal was such an asset to our team for 4 straight years. she started for us all four years and very rarely left the floor. She’s always been such an offensive threat and thrives when she can go take big swings at the block. What’s really impressive with her game is the progress she has made defensively. She went from a timid back row player her freshmen year to covering a majority of the floor her senior year and one of our top two defensive players.”

Kelly Ziegler, Sr, L, Cass City

Photo by Sports Finest Magazine

Kelly Ziegler made opposing attackers lives very difficult when she was in the back court. Posting astronomical defensive numbers all season, she made the hardest plays look like a walk in the park. She’s only one to appear on the first team list to not have received All-State honors, a poor decision on the voters. In her lone season donning the off-colored jersey, Ziegler put up 1084 digs and 707 service receptions. If you want to put a ball down, don’t send it her way. Currently undecided where, Kelly will be looking to bring her talents to the next level in the fall of 2019.

Season Awards: 1st Team All-GTW and All-Region 

Season Stats: 1084 digs, 10.21/set, 707 receptions, 6.61/set, 17 aces

Coach Amy Cuthrell: “Kelly was the heartbeat of our team and was one of the reasons we were able to have the successful season that we had. After graduating out a very strong offensive team we transitioned this year to an every stronger defensive squad.  The saying “defense wins games” is true.  Kelly was a standout Libero in fact one of the best in the area and beyond.  She led our team in digs and in fact broke the 1,000 touch mark this year.  What makes her unique and priceless is her aggressive style.  Her ability to read opposing teams offenses and move accordingly on the court was impressive.  She is coachable and has as deep passion for the game.  Kelly is hoping to play at the next level and whom every gets the opportunity to coach her will be getting a gift.”

Devyn Gordon, Sr, MB, Croswell-Lexington

Stepping up in every aspect of the game came Devyn Gordon. With such a huge graduation class as that of last years team, somebody had to. Devyn went from the typical middle, only relied upon for the quick kills and to put up a wall, to playing 6-rotations and relied for on her backcourt defense as well. A three-year starter for the Pioneers, she excelled during her time. Knocking down 1123 kills on a .361 clip and becoming the top blocker in program history with 343 blocks. She became the go-to player for the Cros-Lex squad. She’ll be taking her excellence off of the court and onto the water next year, as she’ll be rowing for the Michigan State Spartans.

Season Awards: 1st Team All-BWAC, All-Region, and 3rd Team All-State (D2)

Season Stats: 496 kills, .401 hitting percentage, 129 blocks and 347 digs

Coach Ryan Wilson: “It is hard to quantify the impact that Devyn made on this team in every single aspect of the game.  She is one of the very best 6 rotation players in the area as she contributes in literally every way other than setting. All of this while still being able to exert the effort it takes to be one of the best middles in the area is truly remarkable. There simply aren’t many other middles in the state who can replicate her all around accomplishments.  She graduates as the all time leader in program history for kills by a middle and the most in a single season by a middle. I have yet to coach a player with more passion for the game and drive to be great.”

Alexis Wiltse, Sr, S, Brown City

Photo by Huron Daily Tribune

Alexis Wiltse and teammate Kendal Muxlow were one of the best setter-hitter combination in the area for the past two seasons. While having one of the best hands in the area, capable of spreading out her offensive to keep teams guessing, her connection with Muxlow was superb. Running the offense, Wiltse was able to lead the team to another deep post season run. Leading the Devils to their fourth Quarter-Final match in five years. She paced the offense with 861 assists while offering her defense with 298 digs. 

Season Awards: 1st Team All-GTE, All-Region, and Honorable Mention All-State (D3)

Season Stats: 861 assists, 298 digs, 63 aces

Coach Jenna Welke: “I always say a setter is the glue that holds a team together and that’s exactly what Alexis Wiltse did for us. Her leadership, energy, and competitiveness is what propelled us so far into the season. She has clean, quick hands, reads blockers well, and a great first step. However, we relied on her for so much more than just her setting. Her presence on the court and high expectations is what finished games for us.”