MCC Volleyball signs first four players for 2022 season
Four high school volleyball players have committed to playing volleyball next fall at McCook Community College. Coach Hayley Kobza has announced that three players from Nebraska and one from Wyoming are among the November signees, including one who will follow her sister’s recent path to MCC.
Jessie Jerome of Rawlins, Wyo. will play at MCC just as her sister Jordan moves on to Augusta University in Georgia, MCC adds Ogallala teammates Gracen Tuttle and Gabriella Caskey, and from Linclon’s Parkview Christian School Greta Bolognini will be coming to MCC, by way of Italy.
“I have been interested in the Jerome sisters since the first time I met them, and to have both of them attend MCC is just as awesome as the story of how we all met,” Kobza said.
Kobza became aware of the Jerome girls several summers ago when their dad Joshua -- whose parents live in McCook -- was visiting. He called the coach to see if he could get the girls in the gym while they were visiting.
The coach also said she is lucky to have gained two phenomenal athletes from the same program in the Ogallala teammates Tuttle and Caskey and is looking forward to the energy Bolognini will bring to McCook.
Jessie Jerome, Rawlins High School in Rawlins, Wyo., is 6-1 and played hitter and setter in high school but was recruited to be a setter at MCC.
“Of all of the places I visited over the summer, MCC felt the most like home,” Jerome said. “The difference between MCC and other schools for me was the environment, my future teammates and of course Coach Kobza.”
“It is true that McCook is like a family and I am so excited to be part of this tribe,” she said.
She said her favorite memory from high school was bringing home a state championship during her sophomore year. She said she is looking forward to playing with a group of very talented girls, learning from Coach Kobza, improving her skills and playing the game she loves at the next level.
Jerome brings a wealth of experience to MCC having played in 273 sets during her high school career. Over four years, she recorded 613 kills, 877 assists, 150 aces, 123 total blocks and 674 digs. During her senior year she had a career-high 278 kills and 253 digs. She also had 155 assists.
When asked who she looked up to she said it was her sister Jordan.
“Jord has always pushed me to be great no matter the circumstances. She has been an incredible role model,” she said.
Her favorite quote as it pertains to volleyball is an “intense version” of “don’t let the balloon hit the floor.”
She lettered in varsity all four years in volleyball as well as earning two varsity letters in basketball and two in soccer. She received All-Conference honors twice.
“I believe Jessie will be a huge impact player and leader for us coming in as a freshman,” Kobza said. “We are super excited to have Jessie join our MCC family.”
Gracen Tuttle, is a 5-11 middle blocker from Ogallala who chose MCC because she wanted a comfortable environment along with people that she can grow with while playing the sport she loves.
She is a four-year volleyball and track letter winner. Her honors include NCPA academic all-state, Keith County second team, Southwest Conference honorable mention, NSAA academic all-state. At Ogallala high school she was the vice president FBLA and Key Club, a two year member of National Honor Society and was named Banner Health student of the month earlier this month,
Her favorite volleyball memory was when Ogallala won the Southwest Conference her junior year.
“The final match was so thrilling yet so fun and we all connected so well that game,” she said.
Tuttle played in 266 sets during her career and totaled 343 kills, and 273 total blocks. During her senior season she had 174 kills, 116 total blocks, 26 serving aces and 107 digs.
She looks up to her mom, who always worked hard and never fails to do everything she can for her kids.
“I strive to be as hardworking and dedicated as her,” she said.
“Gracen is a player that I believe will come into the preseason and not only push herself, but her teammates as well.”
The senior’s favorite quote is "Learn how to love yourself then teach others your new-found wisdom," and she advises high school underclassmen to "work hard in high school but enjoy the fun times while they last."
Gabby Caskey, 5-11, outside hitter, Ogallala High School, believes that at McCook not only will the coach push her to work hard and become the best athlete she can be, but her new teammates care so much about volleyball that they will push her too.
“The community of McCook also cares so much about the volleyball team so it makes the game atmosphere so much better and exciting,” she said.
“I believe Gabby is going to be a player that can come in and change our offense on the pins,” said Kobza.
Like Tuttle, Caskey’s favorite high school volleyball memory was winning the Southwest Conference her junior year at the Peter and Dolores Graff Events Center in McCook.
“We played Broken Bow in the championship which was highly state ranked at the time and no one thought that we could beat them. But we worked so hard and overcame them,” she said, adding that when receiving the trophy the players accidentally dropped it because they were jumping around so much.
She played in 361 sets during her four years as a starter, compiled 783 kills, 148 solo blocks, 242 total blocks, 65 aces and 507 digs. During her senior season she recorded 277 kills, 43 solo blocks, 50 total blocks, 37 aces, and 199 digs.
After meeting MCC players and watching them play she said she’s excited to join the team and is looking forward to being around Thaynara Isabela.
“She looks like the type of person and athlete that is going to push you to play the hardest and best you can,” Caskey said. “Going into my first year of college volleyball I plan to give it everything I have because I want to get even better opportunities out of this experience.”
Caskey was named first-team all-area in basketball and volleyball, first team Southwest Conference in volleyball her junior and senior years, second team in basketball, a five-time winner of the Max Preps Player of the Game, an honorable mention all-state Volleyball player her first three years, NCPA Academic All-State, the 4.0 Honor Roll four years, the 2021 US Bank Believers & Achievers Recipient, and 2021 High School Heisman Recipient.
“Gabby has a great attitude and I hope that she finds her spot as a leader on the team and on the court,” said Kobza.
Greta Bolognini, 5-8 defensive specialist/hitter from Parkview Christian School in Lincoln. She is originally from Bergamo, Italy.
“When I first came here in the U.S, my hope was to live the ‘American dream.’ Going to a big school and living in a big campus with a lot of students.”
However, she said when she visited McCook for the first time she completely changed her mind.
“I spent just a few hours there and in those few hours I noticed how much people care about their community and how proud they are about it that I felt at home,” she said and realized that a big college would never fit her as well as McCook would.
“I chose McCook because I love the spirit of community people feel there,” she said. “I grew up in a small village with a few thousands of people where everyone was treated as a member of a big family and I am sure McCook has a big family ready to welcome me.”
“Greta is going to be a great addition to our program,” said Kobza.
She said her final high school volleyball season has been incredible, capped by senior night and playing in front of a crowd full of friends, parents and teachers. “That gives you a completely different type of energy.”
Bolognini played in 76 sets in her only year in the U.S. and recorded 208 kills, 300 digs, 72 aces and seven total blocks.
“She has all around volleyball skills that I believe will make her a huge asset for next season,” Kobza said.
Bolognini is excited to be part of MCC and can’t wait to start a new chapter of her life. Her goal is to graduate with a diploma in business administration and also earn a scholarship at a four-year school. She’s looking forward to meeting new people, having new experiences, making new friends, playing volleyball, having fun and making a lot of memories.
She said her favorite is one from her: “I can’t wait to be a member of the McCook family.”