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Volleyball

Rock Falls senior hitter commits to play at Evansville

Moeller comes up Purple Aces

Rock Falls senior hitter Elise Moeller worked hard on improving her defensive play over the offseason, and the payoff was a scholarship offer to play at Evansville University next year.
Rock Falls senior hitter Elise Moeller worked hard on improving her defensive play over the offseason, and the payoff was a scholarship offer to play at Evansville University next year.

Elise Moeller has been working hard to improve her all-around game on the volleyball court.

That paid off handsomely last week.

The Rock Falls senior hitter announced via Twitter that she will continue her athletic and academic career at Evansville University next year.

There were several reasons why the Purple Aces stood out to Moeller.

“I love the coaches and the team; they were very inviting and welcoming to me,” she said. “Also, Evansville was voted as [one of] the best schools in the Midwest academically, and it’s well-known for its professors helping their students. Plus, I liked the area; there’s a lot to do there and the people were super-friendly and welcoming.

“So it was more than just volleyball for me.”

Evansville was voted the No. 7 regional university of the Midwest by U.S. News & World Report for 2019.

Moeller, who plans to major in psychology and become an occupational therapist, participated in the Purple Aces’ camp last month, then accepted their offer for an official visit last week.

She made her decision official on Friday, choosing Division I Evansville over Lewis University in Romeoville, Saint Leo University in Florida, and Maryville College in Tennessee.

“I knew I had it narrowed down to four schools, and Evansville was definitely at the top of my list; I was definitely leaning toward them, but I wasn’t closing any other doors,” Moeller said. “But I went for my official visit last Wednesday and just loved it. I got to go out to eat with the players, go back to the dorm and spend some time with them, and got a tour of the athletic department. They’ve got some big renovations and upgrades and modernization that’s going to happen in the next year and a half, so that was exciting to see, too.”

Moeller played for Club Fusion this past spring and summer, and also enlisted the help of a recruiter to help her get noticed by some of the college teams that showed interest during tournaments.

“Being in that environment, with that exposure, brought the colleges to see me, and that just sparked the process,” Moeller said. “Evansville reached out to the recruiter that was helping me and said they needed an outside hitter, so he sent them my info and told them he thought I was the perfect fit for them, and that’s when they invited me to their camp in July.

“Then after camp, they invited me back for an official visit, and it all fell into place.”

Longtime Rock Falls coach Sheila Pillars says it’s not just a talented performer on the court that the Purple Aces are getting for their program.

“She’s improved so much the last couple of years, and worked extremely hard on all facets of her game,” Pillars said. “I’m a big defensive guru, and she worked hard in the offseason on that to become a well-rounded, six-rotation player.

“But not only is she a great athlete, but she’s a really good person both on and off the court. She was one of my captains last year as a junior, and she’s a great leader. Evansville is getting somebody who will be the whole package for them, and I’m very excited for Elise and super proud of her.”

Moeller was an honorable mention all-state selection as a sophomore with the Rockets, and has been an all-Big Northern performer in both of her seasons as a varsity player.

Now, with her college decision made, she’s excited to start her senior season at Rock Falls. Practice begins today.

“It’s a lot of mixed emotions: happy, excited, relieved,” Moeller said. “It’s a lot off my plate to have that process finished, and I’m excited to see what my future has, but I’m also ready for my senior year and not having to worry about the stress of where I’m going and what’s next in the future.”

The near future, she and her coach believe, should be a good one for the Rockets. After a 31-5 season a year ago, Rock Falls drops down to Class 2A this season.

And with a lot of her starters back from last year’s squad, Pillars anticipates good things in 2019.

“I have a majority of my starting lineup back, so I’m definitely looking for bigger and better things,” she said. “The talent, the leadership, and the commitment are there – we have all those pieces – and we need to work on getting mentally tougher if we want to do something in the postseason. But I expect nothing less than a postseason run, and hopefully we can do some damage in 2A.”

Moeller and her teammates are buying into what their coach is selling, and Moeller plans to make the most of her senior season.

“We have a lot of girls coming back, a lot of experience, and a lot of hard work in club volleyball, so I think we’re going to have a really good season,” the senior hitter said. “I feel like we can work together to do some damage; we trust each other and trust that Sheila will get us to where we need to go, so we’re excited to play our game and see what we can do.”

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