Kuechle leading Lady Raiders on the front line

Robert E. Lee junior Mallory Kuechle leads the Lady Raiders in kills and digs. (Herb Nygren Jr. | Tyler Morning Telegraph)

Robert E. Lee’s Mallory Kuechle started playing volleyball at 10 years old, and took little time to put her talents on display.

“My sister always played volleyball and she played at Lee all four years,” Kuechle said. “I knew more starting out than most people because I always shagged balls at her games.”

Now a junior, Kuechle is still improving her game and will likely take it to the next level after she graduates from Lee.

“I think a lot of places will probably want her to come there and play,” Lady Raiders coach Melissa Lee said. “I know she has had some around here talk to her. I think she can probably have her choice of several places to go next year.”

Prior to then, Kuechle will help lead Lee (24-12, 5-1) into a District 11-5A showdown against Desoto (6-0 in district) at 6:30 p.m. today from REL. A victory would move the Lady Raiders into a tie for the district lead.

Kuechle, a third-year member of the varsity team, has played impressively throughout the season. She entered the week with team highs in kills (260) and digs (229), plus has registered 30 blocks.

“She plays all around for us and definitely is an asset,” Lee said. “She plays front row and she plays back row. She is one of our strongest hitters and one of our strongest defensive players. She’s a key player in our program.”

So what makes her a standout, and how has she improved since her first season on varsity?

“I think she sees the court better,” Lee said. “She probably sees the court better than a lot of kids her age.”

Kuechle has elevated her play during district, evidenced by her nine kills and 12 digs in Tuesday’s 3-1 win over North Mesquite. She had 11 kills, 12 digs and three blocks in the Lady Raiders’ sweep of Mesquite Horn last Friday.

“Our season is going good,” Kuechle said. “We lost four starters from last year so we had to start with a new team. We are doing better than everyone thought we would do.’

The Lady Raiders have also been led by Kalloway Hudson (158 kills, 363 assists), Rachel Johnston (154 kills, 36 blocks), Melissa Menard (307 assists) and Rebekah Bowden (69 blocks), among others.

All of them will be counted on today against DeSoto, which won 3-1 in the first meeting between the teams.

“Our key is blocking,” Lee said. “They are a good-blocking team and so we worked on our block coverage. We didn’t have our best game when we went there. Hopefully we will pick it up and at least compete with them this time.”

Said Kuechle: “As long as we get our block up and block their good hits we will be fine. As long as we go in with a good attitude it should be a good outcome.”

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