All-Thumb Player of the Year: Rylee Zimmer

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Michigan

Posted On: 11/30/18 4:48 PM

Just as predicted, Unionville-Sebewaing’s Rylee Zimmer came into the season with a vengeance. After a historic junior season that saw the starlet break Unionville-Sebewaing’s school record for kills in a single season. She also led her team to a MHSAA Quarter Finals match. Their season would end, this match would be the first time the Lady Pats would be swept all season. Fueling the fire going into an even more historic season. 

Photo by Quad N Productions

Coming off of such a season is pretty hard to top, but leave it to Zimmer to do just that. In her junior campaign, she broke the school record in kills in a single season with 808 in 140 sets. This topping current University of Tennessee standout and AVCA National Player of the Week, Erica Treiber‘s record of 754 kills in 146 sets in 2014. In her senior outing, Rylee would raise the bar even higher. In only 136 sets, Zimmer would bulldoze through her own record notching 828 kills. But that’s not all.

En route to this record, Zimmer would lead the Patriots to a 44-5-4 record. After sprinting away with the conference title, the Pats would only drop two sets over the course of 12 games, both at the hands of Cass City.  They’d continue to run all the way to USA’s first ever state championship match. On the way, Zimmer and friends took down area heavyweights Millington, Reese and then Brown City. In the Quarter-Finals, the Green Devils would push USA to their first ever 5-set match of the season. Showing the strength of the area. The top two teams in the thumb put on a must-see 5-set thriller. The Patriots would come out victorious and wouldn’t look back. They’d go on to the final match of the season to experience their first sweep at the hands of 3-time defending champs, Bronson. 

Photo by Huron Daily Tribune

Zimmer spoke on the historic season. “Leading the team to the state championship game was very exciting, that has been the goal all year since losing in the quarter finals. I knew that we were gonna be an alright team but we’d need others to take that next step to make us better.” Zimmer credits one player in particular. “Moving Grace (Williamson) to the middle from the outside really helped our team. She really stepped it up for us this year.”

Zimmer would be key to the historic season. In the seven post-season matches played, Zimmer put up double digit kill numbers in each, while four of those being 20+ kill matches. On top of dropping 169 kills, hitting .393, she’d also put up 20 blocks and 93 digs. For her trailblazing play, she was awarded 1st Team All-State and PrepDig’s All-D3 Tournament team.

Zimmer capped off one of the best career’s in Unionville-Sebewaing program history. All together Rylee’s dropped 2332 kills on a .309 hitting percentage, stuffed 499 blocks and dug up 1213 attacks. Over time, she stepped up to play all six rotations the last three seasons. She’d even take her hand at setting for a season, showing off the versatility of her play.

Photo by Sports Finest Magazine

While putting up astronomical numbers, Zimmer is a 3 time 1st-Team All-GTW honoree and has earned 3rd Team (Sophomore), 2nd Team (Junior) and 1st Team (Senior) All-State honors during her four years. Apart from individual accolades, Rylee has lead the Patriots to three Greater Thumb West titles, four consecutive district titles, two consecutive regional titles, and then a MHSAA Division 3 Runner-Up trophy. Her mark on the program will be felt for much longer than just her time as a Patriot.

“A lot of younger players look up to Rylee, she helps at the camp we run in the summer and is totally hands on while also helping other players on her team to become better players.  At our camp we run for younger kids we get a lot of people asking if its for just USA kids. We say no its open to any kids that just want to get a little volleyball knowledge, but I truly believe they want to come and see the Zimmers, Schembers and the other players that can help these younger players become better.” Coach Teresa Rose boasted about Rylee.

Photo by Huron Daily Tribune

She continued, “All the accomplishments that she has reached and going on to play at the next level, all younger players see that. They want to be that player that sets records and goes on to college to play. Thats how you get younger players to do the best that they can by Rylee setting an example.  I believe that is the impact that she will leave on our program. Setting goals, achieving those goals and hard work.”

When speaking on her departure from the program, Rylee said. “I will miss the winning tradition that comes with putting on the jersey. Ever since I’ve started watching volleyball (USA) has been winning.”

Moving forward, Rylee is taking her top notch talent to the Cardinals of Saginaw Valley State University. This program took a 360 this season as they went from a 6-21 2017 season to a 19-10 2018 season. With the incoming talent of Rylee, her versatility and a move over to a pin attacker. Don’t be surprised if the Cards go even further!

“At SVSU, I’m looking to improve my volleyball skills. Being surrounded by all the good volleyball players on the team, I am excited to learn and grow as an athlete.” Rylee said of her future career.