Arlington senior outside hitter Emily Mekelburg is The Herald’s All-Area Volleyball Player of the Year. Mekelberg averaged 4.6 kills, 1.3 digs and 0.9 aces per set while helping lead the Eagles to a Wesco 3A/2A title and a sixth-place finish at the Class 3A state tournament. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)

Arlington senior outside hitter Emily Mekelburg is The Herald’s All-Area Volleyball Player of the Year. Mekelberg averaged 4.6 kills, 1.3 digs and 0.9 aces per set while helping lead the Eagles to a Wesco 3A/2A title and a sixth-place finish at the Class 3A state tournament. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)

The Herald’s Volleyball Player of the Year: Emily Mekelburg

The Arlington senior capped a stellar high school career by helping lead the Eagles to a sixth-place finish in state.

In 2016 Emily Mekelburg made a trip across the state to Kennewick to watch her older sister, Sarah, and the Arlington High School volleyball team play at the Class 3A state tournament.

It was the first time the Eagles had made an appearance at state in 20 years, and it was just the second overall appearance in program history.

Mekelburg, then a seventh-grader, told herself that one day she’d be out there playing under the bright lights on the state’s biggest stage for high school volleyball.

During a decorated prep career, she accomplished that goal not just once, but twice, while helping lead Arlington to the most successful run in program history thus far.

Mekelburg, a four-year varsity player, broke out during her sophomore year while starring alongside senior outside hitter Arianna Bilby as a part of a devastating one-two punch on the frontline that guided the Eagles to a program-best sixth-place finish at the state tournament and a Wesco 3A/2A title.

As a junior, Mekelburg and Arlington went 8-2 in the abbreviated spring season caused by the coronavirus pandemic, proving a state tournament berth would have likely been in the cards again for a surging Eagles program.

And as a senior, the 6-foot-1 outside hitter put together an ultra-efficient season as another talented Arlington group won the Wesco 3A/2A title, made a run back to the state tournament and matched the sixth-place finish from 2019. Mekelburg delivered 4.6 kills per set with a .379 hitting percentage along the way, adding 1.3 digs and 0.9 aces per frame.

For her stellar senior season and high school career, Mekelburg is The Herald’s 2021 All-Area Volleyball Player of the Year.

“She’s extremely coachable. She’s extremely likable,” Arlington coach Kelly Pederson said. “She loves this sport and she works really hard. Those are keys to anybody’s success in addition to being naturally talented like she is.”

Mekelburg, an Abilene Christian University signee, peppered opponents all season with hard, well-placed spikes, including a stretch when she averaged five kills per set or more in 11 of 16 matches. And her efficiency was on display as well with a .500 hitting percentage or better in nine contests.

“There’s no doubt about it that if we (receive) a serve and we can give her the ball, it’s going down.” Pederson said. “We want that first ball transitioned no matter what is happening, and her hitting percentage is clearly key in making those wins happens.”

Pederson praised Mekelburg’s ability to attack from all over the court and her high volleyball IQ. And on top of being a constant threat for opponents to worry about, Mekelburg has been a standout teammate as well.

“We can only be as successful as the team is successful, and the good news about that is Emily makes the other players around her better,” Pederson said. “She encourages them and she is someone that they want to get the ball to. She’s always a positive force on the court at all times.”

There’s been plenty of lasting memories for Mekelburg during her time with the Eagles, but this year’s had an added significance. She’s played alongside the Eagles’ talented core group of seniors since elementary school, and this was their last shot to get back to the state tournament.

“I look back at it and I’m just so proud of us,” Mekelburg said. “We worked so hard for it. We set goals. Every practice we gave it our all. So to finally look back and see that we hit (those goals) is just the best feeling in the world.”

“I know some of these girls will be my best friends for life,” she added. “I’m just super thankful for who I’ve learned from – all my coaches and my teammates. I’m just super thankful for this program.”

And next up for the Arlington star is a shot at playing volleyball at the NCAA Division I level.

“You can physically tell she’s not done and you can mentally tell she’s not done,” Pederson said. “She’s got a lot more to do with this sport, and I’m super excited to watch how that goes.”

Talk to us

More in Sports

Monroe’s Jessi Mahler, top left clockwise, River Mahler, Emma Nagy, Scarlett Nagy, Annie Oylear and Hadley Oylear are members of the Bearcats starting lineup going into the playoffs. Photographed in Monroe, Washington on May 16, 2022. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)
Monroe softball teams shares a ‘sisterly bond’

Sisters Emma Nagy and Scarlett Nagy, River Mahler and Jessi Mahler, and Anniston Oylear and Hadley Oylear all start for the Bearcats.

Bryce MIller
AquaSox hope to break out of slump after anemic offensive showing

Everett returns home to face Hillsboro after being shutout in the final 3 games of its series against Vancouver.

X
Vote for The Herald’s Prep Athlete of the Week for May 9-15

The Athlete of the Week nominees for May 9-15. Voting closes at… Continue reading

White line on Green grass sport field for sport concept
Prep results for Monday, May 16

Prep results for Monday, May 16: (Note for coaches/scorekeepers: To report results… Continue reading

Toronto Blue Jays starting pitcher Yusei Kikuchi (16) throws during the first inning of a baseball game against the Seattle Mariners in Toronto, Monday, May 16, 2022. (Nathan Denette/The Canadian Press via AP)
Mariners fall to Blue Jays, former pitcher Kikuchi

Ex-Seattle left-hander Yusei Kikuchi pitches six shutout innings in the series opener.

Lynnwood’s Leyon Camantigue stops a ground ball hit past second base during the district semifinal game at Funko Field on Tuesday, May 10, 2022 in Everett, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Brackets released for state high school baseball tournaments

Lynnwood, Edmonds-Woodway, Stanwood, Mountlake Terrace and Archbishop Murphy are headed to their respective state tourneys.

Arlington's Tyler Howe, left, and Edmonds-Woodway's Ryan Hanby vie for control of the ball Saturday afternoon at Shoreline Stadium in Shoreline, Washington on May 14, 2022.  The Warriors won 4-2. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)
Brackets released for state high school boys soccer tournaments

Kamiak, Shorecrest, Monroe and Edmonds-Woodway are headed to their respective state tournaments.

Lynnwood outlasts Edmonds-Woodway in pitcher’s duel to win district title

Mason Lane delivered the walk-off hit in the eighth inning for a 1-0 win.

Edmonds-Woodway's Benjamin Hanson avoids a tackle by Arlington's Kayden Allen to score a goal in the second half Saturday afternoon at Shoreline Stadium in Shoreline, Washington on May 14, 2022.  The Warriors won 4-2. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)
Dramatic comeback lifts E-W boys soccer into state

The Warriors rally from two goals down to beat Arlington 4-2 in a 3A District 1 Tournament loser-out game.

Most Read