Lydia Kneubuehl entered her first season on the UW-Stout volleyball team not knowing what would happen.
Her senior year at Monona Grove High School was her best ever as she ranked second on the team with 304 kills and 37 aces.
She also contributed 214 digs and 28 total blocks for a Silver Eagles team that finished 21-18 overall and 1-6 in the Badger South Conference.
“I just went in not expecting anything. I was lucky to get as much playing time as I did, so it was great to get that kind of experience,” Kneubuehl said about her beginnings with the Blue Devils.
The 6-foot middle hitter became a success story in her freshman year.
Kneubuehl had 272 kills, an average of 2.41 per match to rank 13th in the WIAC and ranked third with a .281 hitting percentage. She also placed ninth in the league in blocks with a per-set average of 0.74.
For someone not knowing what to anticipate in her first year as a college volleyball player, Kneubuehl did very well, and her coach thinks there are better things to come.
“She had the work ethic and skill to have an impact, but you never know how a freshman will adjust with the transition to college and a new coach,” said Mandy Trautmann, head volleyball coach at UW-Stout. “Lydia adjusted well, and I still feel that there is still room for her to grow. As a coach, I saw those small strides she was making throughout the season. She started to gel more with the setters, and it was giving her more confidence as a player.”
Athletic successes are nothing new to Kneubuehl, whose father, Paul, played basketball on the NCAA Division 3 championship winning UW-Whitewater men’s basketball team in the 1980s.
Paul prompted his daughter to take up volleyball, a game she grew to love. She drove herself to get better.
One of her top mentors was Scott Schumann, the volleyball coach at DeForest High School, who coached her club team when she was 15.
“I think a lot of my work ethic comes from him, because he made it a lot of fun,” Kneubuehl said. “I played in a really competitive environment, and I wanted to push myself to be better.”
As a senior at Monona Grove in 2018, Kneubuehl was named All-Badger South Conference honorable mention as the Silver Eagles defeated Stoughton in the first round of the WIAA Division 2 tournament before they were eliminated by Burlington.
Kneubuehl continued her volleyball playing at UW-Stout under Trautmann, who said she adjusted well to the pace of the college game.
“Lydia has the athleticism to keep up, but now it’s just working on the consistency of it,” Trautmann said. “The adjustment was more so the new transition to school and balancing classes on top of practices, and adjusting to new teammates and coaching staff.”
Through hard work, her chemistry with the team improved.
The Blue Devils ended the 2019 season with a 19-11 overall record, but just 1-6 in the WIAC.
The lone league victory came against nearby archrival UW-Eau Claire.
Heading into the 2020 season, Kneubuehl is hopeful UW-Stout can win more conference matches and that she can improve as a player.
In the offseason, she has a personal coach who offers guidance on her hitting and blocking techniques.
“I think there is a great work ethic here, and it’s a great school for volleyball and school,” said Kneubuehl, who is majoring in dietetics.
Trautmann also sees a bright future for Kneubuehl at UW-Stout.
“I think Lydia is a talented individual, and I think her work ethic makes her the player she is,” Trautmann said. “If she can keep pushing herself for consistency, gain even more confidence, and continue gaining chemistry with our setters, the sky’s the limit for her.”