Whether it was on the court at Elmwood-Murdock High School, or on the court as an Omaha Maverick, Megan Schmale has created numerous moments of success.
Schmale, a Murdock, Nebraska native, plans to ace another chapter of her volleyball career playing professionally overseas.
In July, Schmale signed a contract to play for Haro Rioja Voley for the 2016-17 season. The club is apart of Superliga Femenina de Voleibol, the top volleyball league in Spain, which includes 11 teams from cities across the country.
Many successful volleyball players began early playing club volleyball as young girls, but Schmale’s success on the court only began in middle school after her interest in the sport sparked in the 7th grade, and then later joined club volleyball in Omaha when she was a sophomore in high school.
The 2012 graduate of Elmwood-Murdock became the leader in single-season kills (564), single-season aces (98) and career aces (217). Schmale earned multiple East Central Nebraska Conference honors and set a Class C-2 state record of 1,461 career kills while helping the Knights reach the state tournament her senior year.
Schmale soon became one of UNO’s top players after joining the program in 2012, starting 27 matches as a freshman and lead-ing the Summit League in blocks per game as a sophomore. She then posted 257 kills, 143 total blocks and a .301 hitting percentage during her junior year.
In her senior campaign Schmale broke) a 27-year-old school record in the final week of the 2015 regular season, and became Omaha’s all-time leader for career block assists(460). Capping off one of UNO’s best season in history, Schmale helped the team reach the Summit League Tournament finals for the first time, which is where her Maverick career ended with a program-best 460 career block assists.
Schmale also experienced plenty of success off the court. The elementary education major carried a 3.99 cumulative GPA and was named to the Summit League’s Volleyball Academic All-League Team three years in a row. Aside from consistently being on UNO Chancellor’s and Dean’s Lists, Schmale also became a member of the Commissioner’s List of Academic Excellence, Distinguished Scholars List and the Summit League’s Academic Honor Roll.
A dream of playing volleyball as a professional career had always been a dream of Schmale. She received encouragement from UNO coaches Rose Shires, Karen Povondra and Elena Pietro, and they pushed her to pursue that dream of hers, where they then started working with a volleyball agency to produce a highlight video including all of Schmale’s success as a Maverick.
“I’m so thankful for the coaches I had at UNO and all the help they’ve given me,” Schmale said. “They’ve taught me pretty much everything I know about volleyball.”
The success, again, didn’t go unnoticed. After watching the video, Haro Rioja Voley coaches decided Schmale has what it takes to play her favorite game professionally and earn money doing it, signing her before she appeared in a European-wide tryout camp.
Aside from the excitement of signing professionally, Schmale has also spent a good amount of her time this summer planning a wedding.
“It’s been really crazy, I’ve been trying to get everything done before I leave,” Schmale said. “But
the amount of support I’ve been getting from my friends and family has been great.”
Schmale starts her new journey in Spain in September, joining the roster of one of the most successful volleyball clubs in recent years. The Superliga squads begin playoff rounds in the spring, with championship matches taking place in May, capping off about an eight-month long season.
Along with playing on the court, Schmale looks forward to learning about the new culture. Though she doesn’t speak Spanish, Schmale is excited learn the new language by reaching out to people in the culture and studying notecards.
Schmale said she’s excited for the competition. “I know it’s a very competitive level of volleyball,” Schmale said. “And I think that’s a part of what originally sparked my interest.”