By David McCoy

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Eagan’s volleyball team has won three of the last five state titles.

The Wildcats will play in their sixth-straight state championship game Friday, a run that is simply remarkable.

And one player has been in the program for them all, and her time in the spotlight is only beginning.

If there is one person Eagan Head Coach Kathy Gillen can thank for that superstar player in the middle of her lineup — all-state selection Ellie Husemann, who is so good she’s going to be playing for the Gophers next season — it’s, well, Gillen herself.

“I played basketball when I was from fifth grade to eight grade, and I loved that, but then I just, I played volleyball like always to the side,” Husemann said. “Then when sixth grade, Gillen, she coached like the JO team, and she was like, ‘Ellie, you should really play.’ And then she kind of, like, took some time with me, and got me interested in the sport. So it was kind of Gillen who started my like love for volleyball.”

Ellie Husemann (credit: CBS)

That was the year before Eagan began its remarkable run. Today, Husemann is a senior, and one of the state’s premier players — and Eagan is the state’s premier team.

“We all know that there’s a big target on our backs all the time,” Husemann said.

There’s also nothing that puts a big target on your back like being the one who will play for the Gophers. In a state full of premier players, and with the Gophers as good as they are, you don’t have to tell Husemann how big of a deal that is.

“It’s been my, like, dream, since I was a little girl,” she said. “My dad and I used to go watch them play all the time, and I was like, ‘Wow, I would do anything to be there.’”

But first, she’ll be playing for Eagan, for one more game. It is a journey that will end with the same coach that started it.

“I’m probably going to be laying in bed tonight waiting for tomorrow and just, maybe just start crying,” Husemann said. “Because it’s just, these past four years have been just the greatest four years ever, and I’ve loved playing for Eagan and getting to know all those amazing girls who’ve been on the team and playing for Gillen, [which was] like even was my dream when I was a little girl. So, it’s just, it’s crazy, and I can’t believe it’s already over because it’s gone too fast. But I’m just going to enjoy every single moment tomorrow and make the best of it.”

David McCoy