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Volleyball: Schnichels sticking with the Gophers

Willmar standout staying with 'dream school' following coach's announcement to step down following this season

Willmar senior Sydney Schnichels, left, reacts after the Cardinals scored a point during a Section 2AAA quarterfinal match against Worthington on Wednesday, Oct. 26, 2022 at the Big Red Gym at Willmar High School.
Willmar senior Sydney Schnichels, left, reacts after the Cardinals scored a point during a Section 2AAA quarterfinal match against Worthington on Wednesday, Oct. 26, 2022 at the Big Red Gym at Willmar High School.
Joe Brown / West Central Tribune
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WILLMAR — Sydney Schnichels still plans on staying in her home state to play college volleyball.

On Sunday, Oct. 16, the University of Minnesota announced head volleyball coach Hugh McCutcheon is stepping down following the conclusion of the 2022 season.

A standout on the Willmar volleyball team, Schnichels verbally committed to Minnesota during her junior season.

Schnichels reiterated her desire to play for the Gophers on Wednesday.

“I’m still planning on going; it’s my dream school,” Schnichels said. “I’m going to go there and see how it goes.”

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Cardinals senior outside hitter Sydney Schnichels puts the ball into play during the Dig Pink: Play for a Cure match against New London-Spicer on Tuesday, Oct. 4, 2022, at Willmar High School.
Michael Lyne / West Central Tribune
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In his 11th season with the Gophers, McCutcheon has a 268-71 record and three Final Four appearances. Ranked ninth in the country, the Gophers are 13-6 this season heading into a match with No. 5 Wisconsin on Saturday.

McCutcheon will stay on at Minnesota in a new Assistant AD/Sports Development Coach role starting in Jan. 2023.

Schnichels verbally committed to the Gophers as a junior. The state’s No. 1 recruit in 2023, the 6-foot-4 outside hitter is scheduled to play in the Under Armour All-America Volleyball Game in December in Orlando, Florida.

“I took my other visits, but the Gophers were home,” said Schnichels back on Sept. 7, 2021. She projects as a right-side hitter in college. “My family can come watch and that’s a big piece of it for me. Hugh’s an amazing coach and the program is amazing. Their staff is great and I love the campus.”

She added, “It’s definitely been a dream that I’ve had forever and I was willing to do anything to play (at Minnesota).”

More volleyball coverage:
Recent volleyball coverage from west central Minnesota.
At its board of directors meeting Thursday, the MSHSL approved a switch in the number of weight classes in wrestling and voted on a proposal to seed all eight teams in football state tournaments.

When news of McCutcheon stepping down came out on Oct. 16, Schnichels quote-tweeted the news and commented, “Sad to see a legend go.”

National Signing Day for Division I volleyball is Wednesday, Nov. 9.

In her final high school match Wednesday, Schnichels had 24 kills, seven ace serves and a solo block. The second-seeded Cardinals lost in five sets to seventh-seeded Worthington in the Section 2AAA quarterfinals. Prior to the season, Schnichels said her plan is to graduate from Willmar High School early and enroll at Minnesota in January.

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“It’s been an incredible experience,” Schnichels said on Wednesday. “It’s been an amazing senior year and I’m so thankful that I got to play with these girls.”

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