On the heels of one of the best sports seasons on record at the University of Jamestown, Jimmie women's volleyball made more splashy news via social media on Wednesday, Jan. 1.
Former North Dakota State setter Kalli Hegerle has transferred to UJ and the Jimmies with two years of eligibility remaining. Hegerle, the niece of UJ women's volleyball head coach Jon Hegerle, will be a junior next fall as UJ attempts to defend its Great Plains Athletic Conference tournament championship and NAIA national tournament semifinal berth.
Hegerle's transfer news was accompanied by the commitment of 2019 North Dakota high school Class B outstanding senior athlete of the year Nicole Schmitz of Oakes. Schmitz, an outside hitter, will help to continue the Jimmies' local Region 3 flavor along with new 2020 recruits Megan Moser of Medina/Pingree-Buchanan and Ellie Holen of LaMoure/Litchville-Marion.
"I can just feel this is God's plan for me," Kalli Hegerle said via telephone Thursday. "I was definitely on the edge for a long time -- is it right, it is not right -- and I think once I got into the gym and played with the girls I kinda knew, like, 'Yeah, this is where I think I should be.'"
The NCAA Division I transfer is a boon for the Jimmies. Early plans have the 6-foot Hegerle competing to fill one of UJ's four open hitting spots left in the wake of graduating front-row athletes Britta Knudson, Isabel Wedell, Jordan Thomas and Ellie Michaletz. The foursome, along with departing senior setter Miranda Lowman, helped lead UJ to a program-record 33 match victories and the school's first national tournament semifinal appearance in any sport this past fall.
Hegerle recorded 1,001 assists for the Bison as a freshman in 2018, earning Summit League All-Freshman Team honors as NDSU finished 9-20 overall and 6-10 in the nine-team Summit League. Hegerle's attacking ability was utilized with more frequency during her sophomore campaign. She was fifth on the team in kills (174), to go along with 535 assists, this past fall to help the Bison to 13 match victories and an 8-8 conference mark.
In 57 matches at NDSU, Hegerle posted 1,536 assists, 458 digs, 253 kills, 122 total blocks and 43 service aces. The former high school all-state performer attended both West Fargo Sheyenne and West Fargo high schools.
Coach Jon Hegerle will be entering his 12th season heading up the Jimmies in 2020, which has included family members in the past. The coach's daughter, Josie, was a setter for the Jimmies between 2016-17.
"(Kalli's) an exceptional volleyball player and a very good athlete and has obviously played at the highest level," said coach Hegerle. "On the personal side, she's part of my family. I've been able to coach my daughters, but I haven't been able to coach my niece so I'm looking forward to that."
Kalli said the team itself has already accepted her as part of the Jimmie family.
"I went down on my visit and played with them a little bit and their culture just seems amazing and something that I'm really looking forward to being a part of," Hegerle said. "All the girls have been super welcoming. Jon's obviously built a great program and I'm really excited to see where it can go."
Another NCAA Division I college transfer in the GPAC, Northwestern College's Anna Wedel, was just named the NAIA women's volleyball player of the year in 2019. Wedel, a senior outside in 2020, joined the Red Raiders after playing for the Big 12's Iowa State.
Hegerle said her transfer search included schools that had designs on using her has a hitter. The Jimmies return juniors Jackie Meiklejohn and Megan Gaffaney to the setter position.
"That's one transition that I really wanted to make throughout the transfer process," said Hegerle, regarding attacking. "I hit a little bit last year and that's something I really, really enjoyed and I wanted to continue."
Last season's run to the NAIA's final four was UJ's fourth consecutive appearance at nationals. The Jimmies ended 2019 ranked No. 4 in the NAIA top 25 postseason coaches' poll.
"She's known some of the players on the team for a long time, so she's excited about that as well," said coach Hegerle. "We're just looking forward to having her be part of our program."