NEWTON — Academics played a big part in Michaela Bleeker’s decision-making on playing college volleyball.
“All the colleges I looked at had great volleyball programs. It came down to academics,” Bleeker said. “Clarke had a better psychology program with more internships.”
Bleeker, who graduated from Newton Senior High School Sunday, recently signed a letter of intent to play volleyball for Clarke University in Dubuque. She goes into the NAIA program, which had a record-setting season in 2013. The Crusaders were 31-18 overall under head coach Chris Miron.
“It came down to Northwestern and Clarke. Northwestern didn’t have internships and I wanted to get out and experience the field so Clarke was my choice,” Bleeker said. “Plus, I have a volleyball friend from club (volleyball) who is going there too. So, it’s going to be fun.”
Bleeker is a two-time Class 4A All-State volleyball honorable mention selection by the Iowa Girls’ Coaches Association. Bleeker was named to the 2013 Class 4A All-Southeast District volleyball team.
Bleeker, who was named to the Des Moines Register 2013 Class 4A second team, finished sixth in Class 4A in kills with 387 this season. She led Newton and the Little Hawkeye Conference in kills. Bleeker was named to the LHC first-team for the second consecutive year as a unanimous selection in 2013.
Bleeker was 944-of-1,115 attacks at the net. She amassed 908 kills in three seasons for the Cardinals.
Bleeker also led the Cardinals with 53 service aces, which was second in the conference and 15th in Class 4A. She went 265-of-296, 89.5 percent, at the service line. She had 151 service aces over three seasons.
Bleeker was the team leader in digs with 252, which was 14th in the conference. Bleeker finished with 784 digs in three seasons. Bleeker had six solo blocks at the net and nine assisted blocks.
Asked what she thought she could take into the program for the Crusaders’ volleyball team, Bleeker said,
“My versatility as a player. I’m pretty well rounded so I can fill in at any spot on the court. They want me to play outside or right-side hitter. I feel I might be a better right-side hitter but I love the outside spot.”
Bleeker is the daughter of Dawn and Paul Bleeker of Newton.