PREP VOLLEYBALL: Cullman’s Heatherly, Milne sign with Wallace State

Bottom row L-R: Kada Milne, Ashlen Heatherly. Top row L-R: Tiffani Schwaiger, Kristen Barnett, Meagan Cagle. (Nick Griffin/The Cullman Tribune)

CULLMAN, Ala. – After celebrating Callie Crider’s scholarship signing last week, two more Bearcat standouts made their way to the Cullman High School Library Wednesday afternoon to take the next step in their own athletic careers. Both Ashlen Heatherly and Kada Milne were joined by friends, family, teammates and coaches as they signed athletic scholarships to continue their volleyball careers at Wallace State. Both Kada and Ashlen have put up some impressive numbers in their time playing for the Bearcats. In their four years as starters, Heatherly recorded 1,724 digs, 153 assists, 88 aces and 24 kills while Milne finished with 467 kills, 242 digs, 146 blocks, 44 aces and 44 assists.

Cullman Head Coach Meagan Cagle has spent the past four years watching Milne and Heatherly develop as players on the court and she says they’ve helped set a standard for how she wants her teams to play.

“Both of them started as freshmen for me in my second year here so they’ve really been with me for my whole coaching career pretty much,” Cagle said. “They’ve really set the tone for what my leaders are, what my defensive specialists are, what my front row players are and have given the other kids a standard to look to. So, that has been very important and very impactful to the success we’ve had as a volleyball program.”

Cagle is proud to see two more Lady Bearcats sign athletic scholarships to continue their playing careers and wants to see the excitement around the program continue to build going forward.

“It’s awesome because we haven’t really had this in the Cullman program. They’ve set a tone and we’re really becoming more of a volleyball school and that’s what I’ve wanted since day one. The younger girls see this, and they want to continue on and play at the collegiate level too and these girls are paving the way for that.”

Wallace State has won 11 of its last 12 conference titles and has firmly established a winning tradition that both Ashlen and Kada are excited to be a part of.

“I just know that in my experience with high school volleyball we’ve really had to build this program ourselves and now to just go straight into a program like that is insane,” Heatherly said. “I have no idea what to expect and I’m just excited to be a part of it. I think it’s going to be a big step for me not necessarily being the leader on the court anymore but kind of learning and growing as a person so I’m excited for that.”

“We’re both going to have to step into our roles because we’re going into a dynasty,” Milne smiled. “This isn’t just some small school this is Wallace and they’re the best in the conference every year so we’re going to have to get it into gear when we walk in.”

After growing up in Cullman and growing closer to their group of friends and classmates over the years, it’ll be an adjustment moving forward into college but both Kada and Ashlen are excited for the opportunity to build new relationships with some new people close to home.

“I think what I’m going to miss the most is just being with all the people I’ve grown up with. We’ve all gone to school together since preschool now so that’s going to be different but what I’m looking forward to most is that I’ve played with a lot of the girls we’re about to play with since I was little so I’m kind of going into a new program with some people I already know.”

“What I’ll miss most is probably just having that comfort of being with everybody I know that love me and I love, and I can talk to,” Heatherly said. “But I’m definitely looking forward to going from that into a whole new environment and making a lot of new friends and hopefully getting that same level of comfort back again.”

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