by Bruce Hixon
for the Breese Journal


Future Saint — Pictured is Mater Dei High School senior Mikaela Kues who has decided to play her college volleyball at Maryville University in St. Louis next fall. Kues is pictured with her parents Jena and Eric. Behind them are Mater Dei athletic director Ron Schadegg and Mater Dei head coach Chad Rakers.
    She is listed as a right side hitter and setter, but perhaps a better title for Mikaela Kues is jack-of-all-trades.
    “Mikaela did a little bit of everything for us and she did it very well. She knows where to be on the floor in each situation,” said Mater Dei volleyball coach Chad Rakers. “Mikaela was either first or second for us in just about every statistic. That’s really impressive. She is overly ready for the college game. She is going to be a very hard player to replace.”
    It is that versatility as well as her skill level that will take her to the next level as the Lady Knights senior signed a national letter of intent with the Maryville University Saints last week.
    Kues played an instrumental role in helping Mater Dei post a 27-10-2 record this season, as the Lady Knights won the Class 3A Centralia Regional and eventually reached the championship game of the Benton Sectional where they fell to Althoff in three sets.
    “Winning the regional championship match against Central this past season was probably my biggest highlight. That was big,” said Kues.
    One of those statistical areas Rakers referred to was serving where Kues was second on the Lady Knights squad in scoring with 230 points and first by a wide margin in aces with 68. No other Lady Knight had more than 48.
    “She is a very good server with pinpoint accuracy. She has the ability to get the ball where she needs to on all spots of the floor,” said Rakers.
    Kues also led the Lady Knights in hit attempts with 521 and kills with 211. Kues was third in blocks with 36, second in digs with 195 and first in assists with 408.
    “I prefer setting over hitting. My hitting is probably the biggest thing I need to work on for the college level,” said Kues.
    Maryville, an NCAA Division II school, has had its share of struggles so far this season. The Lady Saints entered this past weekend’s play with a 2-28 overall record, which included a 1-16 mark in the Great Lakes Valley Conference. Last year Maryville went just 4-27 overall and 2-16 in the GLVC.
    “Maryville was primarily the only school I considered. They’ve told me I have a good chance to play as a freshman and play all the way around,” said Kues. “There are going to be some adjustments I’m going to have to make when I get to college. The speed of the game is a lot faster than high school. I’ve got to work on my endurance since college plays the best three-out-of-five sets whereas high school plays two-out-of-three. There is also a lot more travel in college,” said Kues, who was a three-year varsity player and two-year starter at Mater Dei.
    Rakers said endurance should not be a problem for Kues.  “Mikaela was a player who didn’t need to come out on those days where we might play up to five games a day at a tournament. She was always ready to go,” said Rakers.
    Kues plans to major in cybersecurity at Maryville.


UMSL bound — Pictured is Central High School senior Faye Meissner with her family and coaches as she has decided to play her college basketball at the University of Missouri St. Louis in 2018. Meissner is flanked by her parents Tricia Billhartz and Steve Meissner. In the back row is her stepfather Mike Billhartz, Central head coach Nathan Rueter, her brother Alex and Central principal Kent Jones.
    She’s been one of the best defenders on the court the past three seasons, now Central High School senior Faye Meissner has chosen the University of Missouri St. Louis to play her college career after her senior season at CHS.
    Meissner (5’5”) has played in 89 of the Cougars’ last 99 games in which the purple and white have a combined record of 74-25.  That includes two regional titles, two sectional titles and a second place finish in the State Tournament her freshman season.
    “I am really excited for Faye to get this opportunity to play at a high level that is relatively close to home,” said Central head coach Nathan Rueter.  “It’s going to be fun to watch her develop her game at that level.”
    In her junior season last year where the Cougars were 16-14, she led the team in scoring at 12.9 points per game that also included a team-high 31 3-pointers.
    Meissner had three rebounds, 2.4 assists and 2.3 steals per game for the Cougars who finished 9-1 in Cahokia Conference play last season.
    During her sophomore campaign, she played in 29 of the Cougars’ 34 games where they went 27-7 winning a regional and sectional title.
    Meissner scored 198 points as a sophomore for a clip of 6.8 points per game to go along with her three rebounds, two assists and one steal per tilt.
    Her freshman season, the Cougars went 31-4 and saw their season end at the Class 2A State final game where the Cougars lost 55-51 to Kankakee McNamara.
    The freshman scored 114 points as she played in all 35 games.  Entering her senior season Meissner has 634 career points.
    “Her athleticism and intensity is there,” added Rueter.  “She has a drive that is very uncommon for a female athlete as far as I’ve ever observed.  She is a true gym rat and works really hard at improving her game.”
    Meissner will join an UMSL squad that finished last season with a 16-12 overall record with a 10-8 record in the Great Lakes Valley Conference.
    “I need to work on my free throws and finishing at the rim,” said Meissner.  “I think they will use me as a 1 or 2, but probably more of a point guard.”
    UMSL currently has four seniors and three juniors on the roster.  Highland High School graduate Alex LaPorta is a freshman for the Tritons.
    UMSL is under the direction of Katie Vaughn who is in her sixth season as head coach of the Tritons.  She has a career record of 77-62 at UMSL.  They are a Division II school.
    “The biggest reason that I chose UMSL was the connection that I had with the coaching staff,” said Meissner.  “We are on the same page on a lot of things.  They are the types of coaches that are going to push and challenge me to become the best player that I can be.”
    Meissner plans to major in accounting.


Splitting the D — Mater Dei sophomore Shannon Lampe splits a pair of Riverview Gardens defenders in the first half of the Lady Knights’ 30-point win on Monday in Alton. Lampe finished with 11 points. Defending on the play are Mikayla Adams (23) and Gabrielle Dickens.
    The Mater Dei Lady Knights got their basketball season off with a 55-25 win over Riverview Gardens in the first round of the Alton Lady Redbird Tipoff Classic on Monday.
    The game featured 55 turnovers between the two teams and 15 missed free throws.
    However, the Lady Knights took control from the opening tip when they scored the first 15 points of the contest.
    “We saw a lot of good things tonight,” said Mater Dei head coach Dave Kohnen.  “We saw some good defense and how well our quickness can get us shots.  We just have to learn what is open and what is not.”
    MD junior Kierra Winkeler had seven points in the run which featured the Mater Dei defense forcing 14 first-quarter turnovers.
    Buckets by Winkeler and Claire Tonnies ended the MD first-quarter run while the Rams finally scored their first points of the game when Destiny Kaiser scored with just 20 seconds left in the frame.
    The Lady Knights used their athleticism to get to the lane and draw several fouls from the Rams as MD went to the line 26 times in the first half including 13 in each of the first two quarters.
    Winkeler was 6-of-7 from the line in the second quarter as Mater Dei’s lead grew to as big as 19 points in the second quarter. 
    Senior Myah Beckmann hit for six points in the second quarter as the Lady Knights enjoyed a 30-14 lead at the half.  RG had 17 turnovers while MD turned it over 14 times in the half.
    After a Kaiser 3-ball cut the Rams’ deficit to 30-17, the Lady Knights went back to work.
    Mater Dei scored the next 14 points and left no doubt in a game that eventually ended with a running clock.
    In the scoring run, the Lady Knights got a 3-pointer form Kate Toennies and two short jumpers from Beckmann as the lead grew to 44-17.
    Winkeler led all scorers with 19 points as she was 5-of-14 from the floor and 9-of-11 from the line to go with her eight rebounds.
    Beckmann was strong on both sides of the floor with 14 points on 5-of-8 from the floor and 4-of-6 from the line to go with her eight rebounds.
    Mater Dei sophomore Shannon Lampe added 11 points and six rebounds as the Lady Knights outrebounded the Rams 37-25.
    “We spread the ball out and played strong defense and that is what this group needs to do,” said Kohnen.  “We have some nice kids off the bench that come in and complement everybody.  We played a lot of kids tonight and we saw a lot of real good things.”
    Mater Dei finished the contest 16-of-40 from the floor and 21-of-32 from the line.  They hit 2-of-7 from beyond the arc with 26 turnovers.
    “I think we were just a little too amped up,” added Kohnen.  “We have a whole new crew out there and they are young.  But I like what we have.”
    Riverview Gardens got eight points from Diamond Dukes and six from Gabrielle Dickens.
    They were 11-of-51 from the field and 0-of-4 from the line.  They hit 3-of-19 from beyond the arc and turned the basketball over 29 times.

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