CEDAR CITY, Utah — The Thunderbird volleyball program, and head coach Pete Hoyer, has announced the team’s signing class for the Fall 2020 signing period.
“We are very excited to add these six athletes to our program for the 2021 season,” Hoyer said. “Across the board, these are gritty competitors with solid club backgrounds. Their collective level of training and competitive experience will be extremely valuable for SUU volleyball in the coming years.”
Rylee Achtzehn, OH/OP, 6-0, Scottsdale, Ariz. (Desert Mountain High School)
Rylee Achtzehn will be joining the Thunderbirds from Scottsdale, Arizona, where she has been competing for Desert Mountain High School and the Arizona Sky Volleyball Club.
“Rylee has solid club and high school experience on both pins, and in the middle,” Hoyer said. “She has the ability to attack different tempos from pin to pin which will make her extremely valuable in many possible roles.”
She was named Northeast Valley All-Region in both 2018 and 2019, and also earned the titles of Scottsdale All-City and Desert Mountain Player of the Year following her 2019 campaign.
“I chose SUU because of the gorgeous campus, amazing coaches, and the competitive volleyball program and conference,” Achtzehn said. “I also love that it is relatively close to home so my family will have opportunities to see me play.”
Achtzehn was named Arizona Academic All-State in both 2018 and 2019, while being a scholar athlete both those seasons as well.
Calli Johnson, L/DS, 5-7, Litchfield Park, Ariz. (Millennium High School)
Also traveling North to join the Thunderbird volleyball program, Calli Johnson has committed to SUU after a career at Millennium High School and AZ Revolution Volleyball Club.
“Calli brings to our program a relentless defender with high level club and high school experience,” Hoyer said. “Her skills on the first contact will be very valuable to us offensively. “
Johnson is a 2020 Under Armour High School All-American nominee, and her team was the 2019 5A Championship runner-up. Her Millennium team claimed the state title in 2018. She competed on the MaxPreps Tour of Champions in 2018, along with a number of high-profile volleyball tournaments.
“I chose SUU because the second I stepped on campus everything just clicked,” Johnson. “The coaching staff is amazing, and has a great vision for the future of this program. It’s such a beautiful campus surrounded but the greatest city and sweetest people. and I just knew that this was going to be home for my four-year college career.”
Johnson was named a Scholar Athlete in 2017, 2018 and 2019 and was a member of the 2019 Arizona Academic All-State team. She’s also a member of the 2020 National Honors Society.
Molly McDermott, S, 6-0, Palos Heights, Ill. (Mother McAuley Liberal Arts High School)
Traveling to Cedar City from Illinois, where she’s been competing for Mother McAuley Liberal Arts High School and 1st Alliance Volleyball Club, Molly McDermott will be joining the Thunderbirds.
“Molly has high level high school and club experience as both a setter and a hitter which will bring physicality to our setting position,” Hoyer said.
McDermott was a 2020 Under Armour All-American nominee, along with earning AAU All-American status in 2018. She was also named to the 2019 AVCA Phenom nominee. She was also named to the Girls Catholic Athletic All-Conference team in 2017, 2018 and 2019 and helped claim IHSA Class 4A Regional Championships in those same three years.
“I chose SUU because the first time I stepped on campus I felt like I was exactly where I needed to be,” McDermott said. “I love the sense of community, beautiful landscape, and how much the coaching staff cares about each player both on and off the court.”
McDermott was also a member of the Girls Catholic Athletic Conference All-Academic Team in 2017, 2018, 2019, along with being a member of the 2020 National Honors Society. She was also named to the National Art Honors Society in 2018, 2019 and 2020.
Carissa Richie, MB, 6-0, Minnetrista, Minn. (Mound Westonka High School)
Joining the Thunderbird family from Minnesota, Carissa Richie has been competing for Mound Westonka High School and M1 Volleyball Club.
“Carissa brings solid skills and high level experience to our middle blocker position,” Hoyer said. “There is a steadiness and consistency to her game that will be very competitive in our program.”
This past season she was the Mound Westonka High School Volleyball captain, and earned Wright County All-Conference honors in 2017, 2018 and 2019. In both 2017 and 2019 she was selected as team MVP.
“I chose SUU because of the small-town atmosphere and gorgeous backdrop,” Richie said. “My plan is to study accounting, and I was amazed by their accounting program. I also felt a connection with the coaches and felt, besides volleyball being their number one priority, they are truly invested in each player as individuals.”
In both 2019 and 2020 she was a member of the National Honors Society, and has been an Honor Roll student all four years of high school.
Isabella Saucedo, OH, 5-11, Madera, Calif. (Madera High School)
Joining the Thunderbirds from Madera, California, Isabella Saucedo has built a successful career playing for Madera High School and Pulse Volleyball Club.
“Bella is a tremendous competitor and volleyball player,” Hoyer said. “She plays every point at 100mph and we look forward to having her energy in our gym.”
In 2018, Saucedo was named Madera High School Volleyball MVP, as well as earning the title of All-Madera Tribune MVP for the same season. In 2019 she was named All-Madera Tribune MVP and CMAC All-League MVP, along with earning the title of Madera High Volleyball Elite Teammate.
“It felt like home as soon as I stepped on campus,” Saucedo said. “The beautiful landscape is what really sold me. The cherry on top was the amazing volleyball program.”
She was also a scholar athlete in both 2017 and 2018.
Rachel Wieber, OH/DS, 5-11, Northfield, Minn. (Northfield High School)
Rachel Wieber will also be joining the Thunderbirds from Minnesota, after careers competing for Northfield High School and M1 Volleyball Club.
“Rachel is a highly skilled six rotation outside hitter. Her exceptional ball control and volleyball IQ will be a tremendous addition to our program,” Hoyer said.
Wieber has been a 2020 Under Armour High School All-American nominee, and a member of the 2019 All-American USA Volleyball Girls Junior National Championship (GJNC). She was also a Big 9 Conference Honorable Mention, and earned the 2017 UNCW Gatorade Award. Her team claimed 2017 and 2018 Big 9 Conference Championships and served as Northfield High School’s team captain in 2019 and 2020. And in 2017 her AAU team was the Runner-Up to the National Championship.
“I chose SUU because of the beautiful campus, the competitive volleyball program, and the amazing coaches,” Wieber said. “After talking with the coaches for several months I came to learn that they truly cared about me as a person not just as a volleyball player. The team is competitive and fun, and I felt right at home being on campus.”
In 2019 she was a member of the National Honors Society and has been a four-year honoree on her high school’s honor roll.
Stay up to date during the 2020-21 season by following @SUUVolleyball on Twitter and Instagram and liking the Southern Utah Volleyball page on Facebook.
Story courtesy of SUU Athletics
Photo by: Mitchell Quartz