After helping Jacksonville to a Class 4A state runner-up spot in 2012, Neisler pushed the Golden Eagles to even more impressive heights this season. She topped off her senior season by leading Jacksonville to the 4A state championship.
Neisler led her team with 787 kills. She added 92 blocks, 82 digs and 35 aces, earning her the honor of Calhoun County Class 4A-6A player of the year.
“She’s one of those players that comes along that aren’t replaceable,” Clark said. “Other kids will come along and play that position, but I’ve always said that in your career you’re lucky to get two or three players at a 4A school, and I’ve been fortunate enough in my 20-year career to have four or five or those players.”
When Jacksonville needed a big kill — especially in the five-set state final against Guntersville — everyone in the gym knew the ball was going to Neisler. Even so, teams struggled to stop her offensive attack.
“Just based on what you watched her do, we know Katie is who the ball goes to,” Clark said. “She’s the most experienced and with the time she’s put in, the extra time at practice, her play with club and with her ability to stay calm and take big swings, it’s not an easy thing to do. I’ve seen a lot of good players reach a certain moment and not be able to do it.”
Even when things weren’t going as well as Jacksonville would have hoped, specifically when the Golden Eagles dropped the first two sets of the 4A state championship match to Guntersville, Clark said it’d be easy for players to get frustrated, but not Neisler.
It was her efforts that helped Jacksonville win the final three sets against Guntersville and the state title.
She won the 4A state tournament most valuable player award, which was even more special for her because the team had dedicated the season to her older sister, Caroline Neisler, who died in May from complications from acute myeloid leukemia.
“(Katie) understood her leadership role, and I think with what her family went through with her sister passing has contributed to Katie’s role as a player,” Clark said. “Her sister was really tough mentally and never seemed to quit. Not that Katie didn’t play that way, but I think when she thought back to how Caroline played that pushed her to play harder this year.”
Winning the state championship also put Neisler on the same level as her sisters. Her oldest sister, Elizabeth, and Caroline each helped win two state titles while at Jacksonville.