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Squiers use experience to lead Loper volleyball

Volleybal vs Adama State 1


The sport of volleyball runs deep in the veins of UNK volleyball players Maddie and Anna Squiers. It’s a sport they have been around since they were young, and both have grown to love it.

“We have been around volleyball since the day we were born,” said redshirt junior setter Maddie Squiers. “We grew up in the gym. We remember coming to all the games when we were younger and coming to the practices, and even some away games on the bus. Our dad has taught us everything we know about volleyball, so it has definitely been something that we have loved ever since we were little girls.” 

Not only are they sisters playing on the same team, but their father Rich has coached the Lopers for the past 20 years. During that time he has become the most winning coach in program history. This had a huge impact on both girls lives and started them on the path of one day wanting to play for UNK.

“With my dad coaching for so many years it has definitely impacted my love for the game,” said junior setter Anna Squiers. “I am 20 years old and he has been here for 20 years, so I honestly do not remember a time where my dad was not coaching here. We have been around the program and been running around here at UNK since we were in diapers so that has had an effect on our development as players.”

They started playing volleyball together in middle school and then in high school at Kearney Catholic. It was there that the two were part of Kearney Catholic’s strongest run in the programs history. Maddie was on four state championship teams and Anna was on three. Anna was also a three-time member of the Nebraska all-state team in high school.

“Not many people can say they have had as much success in high school sports as we did. High school however, we mainly played for fun and didn’t realize how much success we were having. In college, it is more serious, and we strive for that success. It is important to think back to high school and remember why you were playing and carry that to college,” Anna Squiers said.

As much as the Squiers got to share experiences throughout high school, their paths to UNK were very different. Anna was recruited to come play at UNK right out of high school, whereas her older sister Maddie wasn’t.

“During the recruiting process, things got a little difficult when Anna was being recruited heavily by UNK and I was not. We didn’t always get along, but while we were playing, we had an indescribable connection and we always did what we could to be successful and help our team win,” Maddie Squiers said.

Before coming to UNK, Maddie spent time at Bellevue University playing for the Bruins. In her two seasons at setter, she was a back to back NAIA second-team All American. 

“Coming out of high school, UNK wasn’t the right fit for me. I didn’t start setting until my senior year of high school, so I was a late bloomer in that position. Bellevue was the best option for me at the time. My coaches there made me the setter and player that I am today, and I couldn’t be more grateful for them and that opportunity,” Maddie Squiers said.

With the steady improvement in her game, Maddie decided to come back to Kearney and transferred to UNK. Last year Maddie redshirted with senior setter Lindsey Smith on the roster. “When I got better, my dad would always joke to me about scoming back and playing at UNK, but I never actually thought he was serious. He then sat me down seriously and told me that I could transfer here and redshirt a year, and then play for my last two years. I instantly knew that’s what I wanted to do. It has been my dream since I was little to play at UNK, and it was an opportunity that I couldn’t pass up,” Maddie Squiers said.

Anna, on the other hand, has been a starter for the Lopers the past two seasons. Both years earning a second-team All-MIAA nod for the job she’s done as right side outside hitter.

On the court, both at first found it difficult to play for their father. During those moments they used each other to motivate themselves not to give up.

 “It is hard at first adjusting to having your dad as your coach and we are the only people that can truly understand that. So, during those hard times we helped push each other and helped each other get through that,” Anna Squiers said.

What’s undeniable is the connection the two girls share on the court, something that is nearly 

impossible to replicate with their other teammates.

“We both just have a really good connection with each other when actually playing. We are not afraid to get on each other a little bit, and we can always trust each other which is super nice,” Maddie Squiers said.

Both also look at playing for Rich Squiers entirely different than any other player on their team due to the fact it is their father.

“Our connection is different than anybody else on the team because we are the only ones that can understand what it is like playing for our dad. Our whole team has really good chemistry, but Maddie and I can just relate to each other on a whole different level because we have a strong sibling bond,” Anna Squiers said.

In 2019 the duo hopes to replicate the success they had at Kearney Catholic as both look to help UNK advance past the first round of the NCAA Division II volleyball tournament. The Lopers haven’t advanced out of the round of 64 since 2012.

“My goal for the last few years has been to make it past regionals. Unfortunately, we have fallen short for several years. So, this year I am going to strive for that goal but also keep good team chemistry throughout. Our motto this year is “As One”. So, my goal this year is to play “As One” all season even when we get to regionals and together, we will be able to move past regionals and on to nationals,” Anna Squiers said.

In 2019 UNK has had a lot to be excited about with the Squier duo. Both have been pivotal pieces in the lineup of a team that is currently 24-0. 

With Maddie setting the ball to Anna for the kill, a 21st straight appearance in the NCAA tournament is not out of the picture for the Lopers.

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