Cassie Kuerschen doesn’t need a pep talk when she steps onto the volleyball court.
The Catholic High School junior grew up in a highly competitive family. She’s the youngest of four children.
Her competition growing up was her three older brothers.
“I think it’s definitely what I’ve grown up around, my brothers and my parents,” Kuerschen said. “It’s kind of been ingrained in me ever since I was tiny and we were outside playing sports. It was the most competitive outdoors kids’ games you’ve ever seen, so it’s just always been there.”
Her brother Cameron is a senior in college, while Chase is a junior and Conner a freshman.
Chase is the starting safety at Tulane, and Cassie follows his career closely. She and her parents went to see Tulane’s 38-26 victory over Tulsa on Nov. 2 in New Orleans.
Cassie, the 2019 5Star Preps Player of the Year, will follow Chase’s footsteps into Division I athletics. She’s committed to play for Tennessee.
Catholic coach Brent Carter expects to see Kuerschen on the court early in her UT career.
“Tennessee did not recruit Cassie to sit the bench,” Carter said. “She is one of if not the top liberos in her recruiting class in the country.”
Carter said the combination of natural ability and will to win make Kuerschen a complete player.
“Part of her talent is just God-given,” Carter said. “Cassie is just a very athletic young woman, but then the other part is just her drive and determination. Cassie is in the gym all the time. You don’t have to ask her to be there. She’s just there. She works out all the time. She’s a died-in-the-wool competitor that honestly we haven’t had since the likes of Kamila Cieslik (a junior at Rutgers), like she has Kamila’s attitude, and she’s a completely different position player, but she takes on a lot of Kamila’s traits.”
Kuerschen was a key player in as Catholic (27-8) advanced to the state championship match for the fifth consecutive year under Carter.
This year’s run was perhaps the most impressive with the Lady Irish’s move from Division I Class AA into Division II-AA.
The Lady Irish’s loss to talent laden Briarcrest Christian in the state title match didn’t put a damper on their accomplishments in 2019.
“It was a tough loss, definitely, at the end,” Kuerschen said. “I think everybody feels like we should have won, but obviously, that’s not how it ended. But we all realize that we had a heck of a season, going to a new division with these huge schools. (Previously) we’re playing teams that weren’t as good all season long, but this year it was completely different and we had to compete every single game, so at the end of the season, after we reflected on it, although it wasn’t how we wanted it to end, it was definitely a good season overall.”
Catholic had eight seniors on the 2019 team along with talented underclassmen.
Kuerschen said depth and the intangibles made the team special.
“It was definitely the ability to have so many players that played so many different positions, and we had a lot of new girls step up, especially our freshmen,” she said. “They definitely helped us this year. Everybody really stepped up this year, though, and it definitely was more of a team environment than it was last year.
“Everybody was for each other and wanted each person to succeed in everything that they were doing, and it led us on to the court and helped us come together as a team. Every team plays better like that, so it definitely helped for everybody to be on the same page and work toward the same goal.”
With the high school season completed, Kuerschen moves into club season full bore at K2 Volleyball. Once tournaments begin in January, it’s volleyball almost six days a week with Mondays off.
Kuerschen played on the K2 Elite team last year along with Kayleigh Hames (Webb School of Knoxville, Pepperdine) and Kailey Keeble (Heritage, Tennessee).
“It was crazy, but it was so fun,” Kuerschen said.
During her busy schedule, Kuerschen keeps a close eye on Tennessee’s volleyball team. She attends as many matches as possible or watches online or on television. She talks often with UT’s coaches.
“It’s so amazing,” she said of her upcoming UT career. “It’s probably the biggest relief I’ve ever had to be committed there and know that where I’m going is always going to be a good school and a good volleyball program, and there’s nothing I really need to worry about.”