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Brandsma Will Play Volleyball at Cal State Fullerton

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By Ngozi Ekeledo

Twin Falls, ID ( KMVT- TV / KTWT - TV ) When talking with Kristen Brandsma, it's hard not to get caught up in the bubbly blonde's personality.

But stick her on a volleyball court, and the result is anything but nice--just ask her opponents who became victims of the 69 kills she racked up this season for the College of Southern Idaho volleyball squad.

The Golden Eagles went on to capture their 10th NJCAA Div. I volleyball title, and the bubbly middle blocker was a huge part of their success.

For the 6'2 player, the feat really resonated due to the fact that Brandsma was on a different kind of court just a year ago.

"She came from playing basketball [at Carroll College] and [transitioning back to] volleyball [at CSI] so she knew she'd have to work hard and she put in the extra time and extra work," said CSI volleyball head coach Heidi Cartisser.

After spending a year at the NAIA school in Helena, the former Wendell High School dual-sport star decided it was time to move back closer to home.

Now, she has the chance to to expand her horizons to a completely different type of atmosphere that's more suited towards her bright personality. Brandsma announced earlier this month that she will continue her collegiate volleyball career in the warmer state of California at Cal State Fullerton.

"It's living the dream. You know that's everyone's goal when they come to CSI--to go to a Division I school," Brandsma said. "Especially coming from basketball at a little NAIA school to JUCO, and now I've finally reached the big goal."

This time, the move for Brandsma is one without major surprises.

"It's gonna be a huge change, but I have some friends down there so I'm not going in too blind," she said. "I'm happy nervous, but it's good. I met the team and the coaches, and it feels really great and really natural."

Brandsma leaves for the Fullerton campus this weekend, and she's excited to get a head start with her new team.

"It's really great that I'm coming in at spring so they can get training with me, and I'll be thrown right in there playing UCLA and Pepperdine and all of those big schools during the spring," she said.

"She'll make any team better because of her maturity level and because of her commitment," Cartisser said. "She played in some high pressure games [for us], and she did a really great job, and I feel like she'll really be able to contribute early on at Cal State Fullerton. I'm really excited for her."

Brandsma is the second player from last season's CSI championship sophomore class that has announced the move to continue at the Div. I level. Right-side hitter and Scenic West Conference Player of the Year Keanni Passi is also committed to the University of Hawaii. Both players' success only reinforces the program's achievements.

"That really is the full point of being at a two year school [like CSI]. If they're not interested in going on to playing at the next level after CSI, then I'm not necessarily interested in those players, "Cartisser said. "It's exciting when their hard work pays off."

Thanking her coaches and the local fans for all of their support during her short time with CSI brought out Brandsma's energetic personality even more, and her huge grin remained when she brought up one particular aspect about her new school.

"It's close to the beach and twenty minutes from Disneyland, so I'm really excited."



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