Western Nebraska Community College sophomore Kaile Tuisamatatele always had a dream to play Division I volleyball.
Last Friday that dream came true as the 6-foot-1 middle hitter inked with the University of Southern Mississippi in front of teammates, friends, and her dad who was watching via video on a phone. Tuisamatatele said she had to sign before Sunday so her dad could watch the signing before his deployment with the National Guard to Afghanistan.
She said going Division I makes her family proud.
“It is very exciting for me since I have always wanted to go and play at the Division I Ievel,” Tuisamatatele said. “I know it makes my family happy that I am continuing school and playing volleyball. I am really happy and a dream come true.”
The decision to attend Southern Mississippi was easy once she stepped on campus.
“I decided to go there because it is a really good program and a good place to be,” she said. “They have a beautiful campus and the girls are awesome. I was looking at other schools but once I got on Southern Mississippi campus it was an easy decision. I just had to talk to my parents about it.”
Tuisamatatele had a strong two years at WNCC. Last season, Tuisamatatele tallied 291 kills with a hitting efficiency of .365. She also had 48 solo blocks, 82 total blocks, 109 digs, and 24 ace serves.
For her 2-year career, Tuisamatatele tallied 532 kills, 144 digs, 79 solo blocks, 168 total blocks, and 32 ace serves.
Tuisamatatele said she has improved a lot at WNCC.
“I have definitely grown over the years,” she said. “It was definitely a learning experience and I grew a lot.”
Now, at Southern Mississippi, she will join a Conference USA program that went 17-15 year and upset No. 2 seed Western Kentucky in the first-round of the Conference USA tourney before falling to No. 6 seed Florida International.
Tuisamatatele said that she will be on the opposite side of former teammates next year, including Enna Masaki, who signed earlier this semester with UTEP. UTEP is a Conference USA member. She will also see former Cougars Genesis Benitez and Joise Maldonado, who are at the University of North Alabama.
While the Cougar volleyball team fell short of winning a regional title, what the six sophomores accomplish this year is all of them will be continuing their playing at a four-year college. Three of the sophomores are headed to the Division I level. Tuisamatatele said that is an honor to see.
“It will be hard [to leave the other sophomores] but also exciting that every single sophomore found a place to go and found a home,” she said. “It will be very hard to leave the people I love but it is awesome that they get to continue playing.”