Volleyball: Schnichels tabbed for All-America game

Willmar junior will compete against 24 of the country's top players in December

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Willmar junior Sydney Schnichels reacts after the Cardinals scored a point in the first set of a Section 2AAA semifinal match against Mankato West Friday, Oct. 29, 2021 at the Big Red Gym at Willmar High School.
Joe Brown / West Central Tribune
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Sydney Schnichels will have her chance to play with and against some of the nation’s best.

On Friday, the Willmar junior was announced as a selection for the Under Armour All-America Volleyball Game in December in Orlando, Florida. The game features 24 of the nation’s top players that are hand-picked by Under Armour to compete.

Two weeks ago, Schnichels got the offer to play in the All-America game while completing a bit of a redemption arc.

In early April, Schnichels, a University of Minnesota commit, participated at an Under Armour volleyball camp with the hopes of making the All-America game.

“I played in that and didn’t get selected there,” Schnichels said. “We got told: ‘We didn’t select her at the Under Armour camp because we haven’t seen her enough yet.’”


On April 9-11, Schnichels played on the Minnesota Select 17-1 Junior Olympic team at the Show Me National tournament in Kansas City, Missouri. Playing as a right-side hitter for MN Select, the 6-foot-4 Schnichels admits that missing an All-America Game invite added some motivation to that weekend.

“I was going into the weekend thinking all right, I’ll show off and show that I should have been invited,” she said. “It did light a fire under my butt. I knew there was a possibility of getting an invite there. If I was selected, great. If not, it is what it is.”

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Willmar junior Sydney Schnichels tries to get the ball between a pair of Marshall blockers during a non-conference game on Thursday, Aug. 27, 2021 at Marshall High School.
Joe Brown / West Central Tribune

Schnichels’ MN Select team finished second. And after the match, Schnichels got the good news.

“The scout for the (All-America) Game came and watched us the whole time,” Schnichels said. “She walked up to my parents after the championship game and told them she wanted to select me. … She saw me play and said yes, I had to be in the game.

“It was super cool; I was very excited. We lost in the championship, but finding that out made me less upset.”

Schnichels is one of two Gopher recruits to be selected for the All-America game. Joining her is future teammate Calissa Minatee, a middle blocker/right-side hitter from North Kansas City High School.

During the high school season, Schnichels was the top attacker for a Willmar squad that went 22-8 and won a share of the Central Lakes Conference with Alexandria. The Cardinals reached the Section 2AAA championship match, losing to eventual state champion Marshall.

A Class AAA All-State selection and West Central Tribune All-Area first teamer, Schnichels recorded 386 kills, 276 digs, 39 blocks and 33 ace serves.


This winter and spring, Schnichels has put her focus into sharpening her game for college. Schnichels hopes to model her game after former Gopher All-American Stephanie Samedy.

“My focus for sure has been getting ready to go to Minnesota,” Schnichels said. “I’ve really been working on my shots, working on my approach and my arm swing; really perfecting everything and really working on the techniques that the Gophers use.”

Her MN Select squad has four other Division I prospects: Watertown-Mayer’s Kate Thibault (Oregon); Minnetonka’s Kate Simington (Clemson); Andover’s Avery Bolles (Colorado); and Southwest Christian’s Annika Veurink (Villanova). The head coach is George Padjen, who is an assistant coach at Division II powerhouse Concordia-St. Paul.

“George is an amazing coach; he’s been showing me things I haven’t worked on before and things I need to tweak,” Schnichels said.

“Our team’s been improving over the last few months. We just got our bid at Show Me to play at the USAV nationals. You can just tell the difference in the last two months; we’ve taken it to the next level.”

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Joe Brown
Joe Brown is a sports reporter for the West Central Tribune. He can be reached via email at: or his office number: 320-214-4332.

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