PRAIRIE DU SAC — Olivia Breunig has spent a lot of time competing over the years.
Whether on the volleyball court, basketball court or softball field, Breunig has spent 12 seasons as a member of Sauk Prairie High School’s varsity teams. The senior will trim that workload down to one at the next level, signing Friday to join the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh volleyball program.
“I committed in December, so making it 100% official was great,” Breunig said of her decision to join Oshkosh’s 2021 recruiting class. “I wanted to stay closer to home. Obviously, with my family here, you can tell family is important to me. I wanted them to be able to watch me and also be able to come home. They have my major, which is awesome. That was obviously the first thing, because school always comes first. And after seeing the gym, I fell in love with it.
“The coaches and the players felt like at home, so it was just an easy pick for me.”
The process toward Friday’s ceremony started during the 2017-18 school year, when she came in as a freshman and contributed immediately on Sauk Prairie’s volleyball, basketball and softball teams. As she progressed through high school, volleyball began to stand out from the rest.
“Starting high school I kind of liked them all the same, but then as I found success and the love for volleyball, I pushed for that one more,” said Breunig, a versatile athlete who was primarily a setter. “I like my position on the team; that I get to touch the ball every play. I feel like I played the best in that sport. I feel confident and I just fell in love with the way the game flows and the way that the pace can change super fast.
“I love playing and have made some super great friendships that way.”
A two-year Sauk Prairie captain, Breunig finished her high school volleyball career with a huge senior season in which she earned her second straight honorable mention all-state recognition from the Wisconsin Volleyball Coaches Association. The 5-foot-10 setter/outside hitter collected 408 assists and 233 kills while helping captain the Eagles to a 23-6 record and their first WIAA state tournament appearance since 2009.
Following the loss to Sussex Hamilton in the Division 1 state semifinals, Breunig set out to take a deeper look at her college options.
“I visited the first time, just a normal visit, in August,” Breunig said of her path toward Oshkosh, noting she plans to pursue exercise science, biology or something else that leads into occupational therapy. “As the season got going and I had more conversations with coaches, I took an official visit after state. So that would have been November, and then that next week I made my decision. The one-on-one time was awesome, just to ask the questions I needed to.”
UW-Oshkosh head coach Jon Ellmann played a key role when Breunig committed in December. Ellmann, who started as an interim head coach in 2017, led the Titans to a 21-10 record in 2019, including a 4-3 record in conference play and a fourth-place finish in the Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference.
“Coach Jon is awesome,” Breunig said. “We have had some great conversations. He has such a great knowledge of the game and I feel I can improve the most there and can be the most successful.
“I sent some film back when COVID first hit and club season came to an end. We’ve just been talking about, I’ll most likely be setting there, so just what he expects and how he runs his program. I just agree with all the values he has toward volleyball. And the one thing I love is he runs his D-III program like a D-I program. He wants us to get classroom work done first, but volleyball is still a high priority and he does everything right.”