Hixson to go from Husky to Coyote

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In just a little over a year and a half Aurora’s Kiley Hixson will transform herself from a Husky into a Coyote.
Similar-type animals maybe, yet far different.
That’s what happens when you take that next step up.
Kiley, after she graduates in 2016, will take her many volleyball talents north to South Dakota University in Vermillion, home of the Coyotes.
The all-stater announced her decision just this past week after weighing different options. With the choice now made, she said she can just concentrate on school and on simply improving her skills on the volleyball court.
Why South Dakota? She said it was because she simply had a good recruiting visit, fell in love with the campus, the coaches, the players and with the facilities.
‘‘Coyote Village is where all the athletes stay and it’s brand new and super nice,” she pointed out. “And they’re getting a new volleyball and basketball arena, new locker rooms and everything. Leanne Williamson is just in her second year (as head coach). She’s kind of younger and she knows what she wants me to improve on.”
Williamson took over the program on April 9 of 2014 and guided the school to a 19-12 overall record, finishing 12-4 in conference play. This past season the Coyotes played schools such as Kansas State, Arizona, SMU and Illinois, and defeated Colorado, Creighton and Arkansas. Competing in the Summit League, the roster featured three seniors, three juniors, three sophomores and three freshmen.
“We asked them how they felt about redshirting and they said they expect their freshmen to be ready to play, so that isn’t probably an option,” Kiley mentioned.
Other schools interested in having Kiley play for them included Montana State, Kansas State, a college in Elon, North Carolina as well as the local colleges such as Hastings, UNK and Wayne State.
She told me the recruiting process was a little bit stressful so she’s glad it’s a done deal. And she said it’s been going on for quite some time, too.
“Hastings actually sent me something when I was in eighth grade because I went to a camp there and they invited me back for an elite camp, where their recruits go. And my first big Division 1 school was during my freshman year of club season. It was exciting, but it is kind of stressful. Sometimes they wanted me to call them and it’s like, ‘oh my gosh, what if I sound like an idiot.’ It’s kind of scary.”
Another reason why South Dakota was high on her list was the fact that Kiley is interested in occupational therapy for a major, something the school could offer her all the way through until the end of her education. Her other interest, at the moment, is marketing and advertising.
This off-season Kiley is playing club ball for the Nebraska Juniors team out of Lincoln. Official practices started in January and her first tournament was this past weekend.
“We are practicing two or three times a week, and will play until the end of June, finishing up in Florida,” she noted. “And then we start school ball, so pretty much it’s all year round.”
Through this entire process Kiley has had the support of her family and has the built-in advantage of having her mom, Lois, as her head coach, too.
“She’s always been there,” Kiley added. “We don’t always agree on everything, but she really pushed me, so it was fun.”
Fun, too, is becoming a Coyote.

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