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Misiaszek to join Tigers after two-year hiatus from sport

Dana Misiaszek, who played volleyball at Mitchell High School before graduating in 2012, poses for her Daily Republic volleyball player of the year photo in December 2011. Misiaszek recently signed to play with Dakota Wesleyan University. (Daily Republic file photo)

For two years, something has been missing from Dana Misiaszek's life.

Being a volleyball player is part of the 19-year-old's identity and she'll journey back to the court this fall to play collegiately for the first time in her career.

"I just really missed playing volleyball," said Misiaszek, who attended the University of South Dakota as a nursing major for the last two years. She recently signed with Dakota Wesleyan University for the 2014 season under first-year head coach Lindsey Wilber. "I played intramurals both years at USD, and I'd go to the gym and mess around with a volleyball."

Misiaszek, who will have sophomore eligibility, said DWU has given her an opportunity to pursue both of her passions -- nursing and volleyball.

Misiaszek made her name known in high school as a school-record holder for the Mitchell Kernels. The 2012 graduate held records for blocks in a season (73), kills in a season (413) and kills in a career (949). Her kill records have since been broken by Taylin Alm.

Mitchell High School head volleyball coach Deb Thill said DWU is gaining a talented athlete and Misiaszek should benefit the program.

"When she left our program, she was good enough and talented enough to play at the college level, so I'm excited she's decided to play volleyball again," Thill said.

The 5-foot-7 outside hitter finished her career with the Kernels with several accolades, including a Class AA all-state first-team selection, three all-Eastern South Dakota Conference first-team honors and The Daily Republic's volleyball player of the year award.

Misiaszek thought about playing volleyball in college as a senior in high school. At the time, she had concerns about her career path and the time and dedication it would take to study nursing and play volleyball.

By the time she decided she wanted to continue in the sport, she was behind the game.

"I contacted colleges super late," Misiaszek said, adding she was interested in playing for the Coyotes but USD's former coach Matt Houk had filled his roster. "There wasn't a spot open."

By the next season, Misiaszek ruled out playing the sport for the Coyotes, saying "By that time, I wanted to focus on school. I met a great group of friends and enjoyed being a student."

Her father, Jim, is an assistant coach for the DWU softball team, and Dana said he had an influence in her decision to play again.

Misiaszek said she's started to get into shape and prepare for the coming season. The Tigers, who were 7-28 overall and 0-16 in conference play last season, have held several open gyms this summer and Misiaszek said she's enjoyed getting back into the gym.

"Her athleticism, competitiveness and desire to win will be a welcome addition to the Tiger volleyball squad when we begin practice next month," Wilber said in a release.

Misiaszek is looking forward to helping DWU improve in any way she can.

"Volleyball is such a great game and I'm excited to be a part of it again," Misiaszek said. "I want to contribute to the team, whether I'm cheering on my teammates, pushing players in practice or helping us win matches."

Brooke Cersosimo
Brooke Cersosimo is The Daily Republic's sports editor.