Bobcat Volleyball adds four to the roster

Assistant Head Volleyball Coach for the State of Montana Cole Aiazzi has announced four new additions to the Bobcat roster for the 2023 season. Joining the MSU program are Erika Gustafson, a 6-2 middle blocker from Denton, Texas; Karli Heidemann, a 6-1 outside hitter from Diller, Nebraska; Sydney Hires, a 6-foot outside hitter from Sylvania, Ohio, and Joelie Spelts, a 6-3 center blocker from Gillette, Wyoming.

“This class as a whole brings a lot of physicality and takes us to a higher level,” said Aiazzi. “They all win high school programs and clubs and we believe they will help us become big sky champions. We look forward to seeing the impact they will have on our program.”

Gustafson played competitive volleyball for just a year — having been a gymnast since age three — and has led Denton-Guyer High School to a 24-11 overall grade and a 12-2 record in conference play. She was named District 5-6A Blocker of the Year as the Wildcats advanced to the 6A Division II regional semifinals. During the season, she racked up 87 kills, reached .312 and added 62 blocks. Off the court, she was named to the 2022 Academic All-District 5-6A team.

“Erika is a late bloomer and was a gymnast for many years before she outgrew the sport,” Aiazzi said. “She’s a physical middle that moves well laterally. She also brings great energy to the pitch. Erika has played with TAV (Texas Advantage Volleyball), one of the premier club programs in Texas. She wanted to play somewhere in the North West and we’re glad we found her. She will fit well into our current middle group.”

Heidemann attended Diller-Odell High School, where she was a letterwinner for the Griffins for four years. That season, she helped her team to a 29-6 overall record. A four-time First Team All-Pioneer Conference honoree, Heidemann was instrumental in guiding her roster to conference titles in 2019 and 2022. Additionally, the Griffins won the D-1 state championship in 2019 and the D-2 state title in 2020. She was named to the D-2 All-State First Team three times and was a 2020 pick for the All-Nebraska Second Team. Heidemann holds the all-time D-2 record with 2,112 career kills and the D-2 mark with 658 kills in a single season. She was ranked #4 in Nebraska and #117 by PrepDigth in the nation of PrepVolleyball.

Heidemann played club ball with the VC Nebraska 18 Elite team, which was the 2021 USA Volleyball 18 National Champions. She was also an All-Nebraska Preseason Super 6 selection.

“Karli will add a big arm on our left side,” Aiazzi said. “She will bring a lot of power, a great volleyball IQ and a strong work ethic to our program. She played with the same club program as current Bobcat Mya Larson and will certainly help raise the level of our gym.”

Shuts down preparations at Sylvania Northview High School, where she helped the Wildcats to a 20-6 record this fall. As a four-year letter winner, she was a second-team All-Northern Lakes League selection as well as an all-district and all-state honorable mention as a senior. Off the pitch, Hires is a graduate student with honors.

“Sydney will bring another good arm to the left,” said Aiazzi. “She’s another kid who wanted to play in the Northwest. She comes from a successful high school program and a good club in Ohio. Sydney is a culture child and passionate about the game. She’ll bring a nice competitive edge to the gym.”

Spelts plays at Thunder Basin High School, where she led her team to a 36-7 overall grade and an 8-0 conference grade. A four-year letter winner for the Bolts, she is a three-time All-State selection. That season, Spelts was named 4A East Player of the Year after notching 771 kills that fall — a school record. She also holds the TBHS mark of 1,502 career kills. Spelts also finished her tenure with the Bolts with a total of 310 blocks. A 2022 AVCA High School All-Region Pick, she is a nominee for High School All-America Honors.

Off the court, Spelts is a 4.0 student and has been a four-time Wyoming Academic All-State Honoree.

“Joelie is a gifted and physical athlete,” said Aiazzi. “She comes from an athletic family as her mother played basketball in Iowa. Joelie has been on our radar and has been to our camps and she is just a great person who will add to our team culture. She has the potential to play a lot of current Bobcat Jordan Radick. She is very good on one foot.

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