New England senior gets 1,000th kill
In a pre-game ceremony, New England senior Hailee Kuske was honored for her 1,000th career kill in front of a home crowd. This is the third such award that head coach Taylor Hafner has been able to award in her career leading the Lady Tigers. Former player Taylor Hewson also accumulated 1,000 kills and current senior Paige Ehlis collected her 1,000th assist last year.
By Cole Benz
Kuske, the 5-foot-11 middle hitter/blocker, has been a four-year starter Hafner, who said Kuske shares the same qualities both Ehlis and Hewson have. The three athletes, Hafner said, all have phenomenal work ethic, dedication to their craft, killer instincts and attitude on the court, and great attitudes and drive off the court.
“It puts them further ahead than most,” she said. “Everybody gives you a positive review about these three.”
Kuske, a four-year varsity starter, actually got her first taste of varsity action as an 8th-grader, when Hafner recognized her potential and brought her up from the junior varsity squad.
“I saw a lot of potential from a young age,” she said. “She just was natural on the court.”
Though Kuske just earned her 1,000th kill, Hafner said her strong suit is actually her blocking ability.
“Blocking is actually her go-to strongest point for sure,” she said.
As an 8th-grader, Hafner said she was already showing good form and aggression on the net.
“You see those things in certain athletes, even from a young age, that you know that you’re going to have a lot to work with and you’re going to really build upon,” she said. “And that’s huge for me to work with her from the 8th-grade season all the way until now.”
Hafner said Kuske is a very coachable player, and takes critiques positively and works to improve her game—a quality Hafner said is one successful players possess.
Her leadership is exemplarily, as evident by her captainship, Hafner said. Team captains are voted upon by players and Kuske is in her second season serving as a team captain.
“Hailee is definitely one that leads by example,” she said. “If she gets that big kill, it just fires my whole team up.”
As a young player, Hafner said Kuske took that role and ran with it. The coach admits to pushing Kuske hard, but said that it’s because she can knows she can handle the challenge.
“I’ve been pushing her since she was an 8th-grader,” she said. “And she’ll tell you the same thing, I am hard on her and I push her hard, because I truly know that [and] expect her to be on top all the time.”
Hafner said Kuske has been exploring playing past her prep career, but no decision has been made yet.