Kocken, Lehman and Nilles to Join Marquette in 2012

Shymansky adds three talented players for another run at the NCAA tournament in 2012.

Dec. 16, 2011

MILWAUKEE – Fresh off the first NCAA Championship appearance in program history, the Marquette University women’s volleyball team has announced the addition of middle hitter Jackie Kocken (De Pere, Wis. /West De Pere), outside hitter Erin Lehman (Green Bay, Wis./Notre Dame Academy) and setter Mary Nilles (Batavia, Ill./Batavia) for the 2012 season.

Kocken and Lehman have both signed a National Letter of Intent to enroll for the 2012 fall semester, while Nilles has signed a scholarship agreement and will be on campus for the start of the winter semester in January.

“As our program continues to rise, so too does the caliber of our recruits in 2012,” BIG EAST Conference Coach of the Year Bond Shymansky said. “Playing at the NCAA tournament level, we can see the need for more physicality at the net and this incoming class will provide that. We are fortunate that we continue to draw great student-athletes into our team culture. We are proud of not just winning and setting all these new records as a volleyball team, but also setting new records and high standards academically. This incoming class will certainly help us bolster and increase our IQ both on and off the court.”

Nilles, ranked among the nation’s top-250 players by PrepVolleyball.com, will compete for playing time at the setter position with 2011 BIG EAST Conference Freshman of the Year Chelsea Heier. The 5-foot-11 Nilles won 98 matches at Batavia High School as a four-year letter winner and team co-captain in 2010 and 2011. She was a three-time all-conference performer for the Bulldogs under head coach Lori Trippi-Payne, with whom she captured a regional and conference championship as a junior in 2010.

“We are very excited about having Mary Nilles in the gym as a competitor, setter, leader and a driving force of energy,” Shymansky said. “She has a tireless work ethic, unbelievably fast feet and a real passion for winning at the game of volleyball. We need two competitive setters in the gym to really advance our overall team play and Mary will help us accomplish that. The competition between setters is always a good thing as they push each other to bigger and better things.”



Nilles earned first team all-area honors and all-state recognition following both her junior and senior seasons at Batavia and played club volleyball for Sports Performance. She leaves Batavia No. 2 on the school’s all-time blocks list with 192, and fourth all-time in both assists and service aces.

One of two Wisconsin natives joining Marquette, Kocken is the highest ranked of the Golden Eagles’ newcomers at No. 85 nationally, according to PrepVolleyball.com. The 6-foot, 5-inch middle hitter was a three-time all-conference performer at West De Pere High School under head coach Ashley Knapp, where she set the school record for blocks in a career.

“Jackie is a big part of that new level of net play that we are looking for. She has a lot of upside and the ability to be a very dynamic middle attacker. We are excited to get her in the gym where we can give her quality reps and push her hard to be the greatest player that she can be. We have an expectation for her not to just be tall, but really be a devastating net player,” Shymansky said.

Kocken notched 284 kills and 38 service aces as a senior, while leading the conference in blocks (112) and hitting percentage. She competed on the club circuit with the Wisconsin Volleyball Academy and Fox Cities Elite, where she teamed with fellow signee Erin Lehman.

The 6-foot-1 Lehman was a four-year letter winner at outside hitter for Notre Dame Academy where she earned Fox River Classic Conference Player of the Year honors as a sophomore, junior and senior and was named the Green Bay Press-Gazette Player of the Year as a junior.

“Erin has good height, power, and range and is an excellent blocker as much as she is a hitter,” Shymansky said. “She has definitely improved and increased her back row skill, which has really helped us see her as a potential starter in our lineup. We are definitely excited about her potential as a future go-to player for Marquette.” 

The 2011 second team all-state selection helped the Tritons to conference and regional titles as a senior and their first conference title in school history as a junior with a perfect 11-0 record. She was a third team all-state selection in 2010 and leaves Notre Dame as the program’s all-time leader in kills and service aces.

Kocken and Lehman, both Badger Region High Performance participants, add to a roster that already includes six student-athletes from the state of Wisconsin (Danielle Carlson, Lindsey Gosh, Carol Henney, Catherine Mayer, Holly Mertens and Courtney Mrotek).



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