OSKALOOSA, Iowa (NBC 26) — The Fox Valley regularly produces some of Wisconsin's best men's volleyball players, and now one Appleton-area native has received national acclaim.
Landon Krause, a 2020 graduate of Kimberly high school, has been named the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) National Player of the Year.
"I've always believed in my ability," he said. "National player of the year? I didn't expect that this year."
Krause is no stranger to accolades. He was the Wisconsin High School Player of the Year in 2019, leading Kimberly to its first ever state title.
That's where he learned the game and honed his craft.
"Just Kimberly athletics in general... There's a lot of expectations there and a lot of talent that's come through there," he said of his time with the Papermakers.
In boys volleyball, that talent expands to the rest of the Fox Valley.
"I personally thought throughout high school that our conference was the best conference in the state," Krause said. "Kaukauna and Appleton North have always had success in boys volleyball. So I think that conference was always going to be strong. It always was strong."
Krause is one of three Fox Valley natives on William Penn University's history-making volleyball team. The program was launched only three years ago, but this year made it all the way to the NAIA National Tournament.
"To make the stride that we made... I don't know if anyone was really expecting that," Krause said. "But us as a team - we knew we had the talent to do something special here."
The Statesmen lost Wednesday afternoon, ending their special run.
Now, they'll look to keep growing the program. And back home in Wisconsin, Krause hopes the game as a whole continues to grow, too.
"I think a big part in Wisconsin is a lot of kids don't know about it until maybe high school or later on," he said of boys and men's volleyball. "But getting those middle school leagues in, intermediate school leagues in to let them know that men's volleyball is an option in high school and in middle school is a great thing to grow the game."
William Penn University is located in Oskaloosa, Iowa.