Beth Prince, a one-time National Freshman of the Year in high school volleyball, has orally committed to the University of Illinois.
The Avon (Ind.) High School sophomore announced her decision Monday night via Twitter after informing Illini coach Kevin Hambly.
“I connected with Kevin on the highest level out of all the coaches that I talked to,” Prince said Tuesday. “I had talked to a lot of people, and I just felt like him and I connected the best.
“I like what Kevin’s trying to do. He’s trying to build a program and make a legacy, and I just really want to be a part of it.”
The 6-foot-3 outside hitter joins setter Jordyn Poulter of Eaglecrest High School in Centennial, Colo., in the Illini’s recruiting Class of 2015.
Prince said she visited Texas, UCLA, Purdue and Indiana in addition to Illinois before arriving at her choice.
Prince indicated that the UI’s proximity to extended family also factored into her decision. Both sets of grandparents, as well as some friends “that might as well be aunts and uncles,” live in Charleston.
“They haven’t seen me play that often, and I know that they’re going to be really excited that they’re going to be able to see me play more and see me more often,” Prince said. “And I’m going to be excited for that as well.”
Prince was selected the nation’s top freshman in 2011 by Prepvolleyball.com and ESPNHS after helping Avon finish second in Indiana’s Class 4A state tournament. Last fall, she led the Orioles to the state title while breaking the school record for single-season kills (505).
“For her age, she’s one of the top, if not the top, attackers in the country,” Lance Keating, Prince’s coach with the Plainfield, Ind.-based Circle City Volleyball Club, said Tuesday. “A talented, athletic volleyball player with a big arm and good IQ for the game.”
Although Prepvolleyball.com selected setter Kylie Pickrell of Coppell, Texas, as its National Sophomore of the Year, the website indicated Prince was strongly considered. Wrote Prepvolleyball.com’s John Tawa: “But for our bias against handing national player honors out to the same player in consecutive years, Prince could easily have been our choice.”
Prince didn’t lack for 2012 awards, however. She was selected to MaxPreps.com’s Sophomore All-America team and was named Indianapolis Star Super Team Volleyball Player of the Year for the second consecutive year.
In club ball, Prince plays for Circle City’s Nike Elite 18-and-under team, which is primarily comprised of seniors.
Keating was asked what areas of Prince’s game she currently needs to improve to make the transition to NCAA Division I volleyball.
“She’ll need to continue to improve in the back row,” he said, “and she needs to become a better blocker as well.”
On the way
A list of Illinois volleyball recruits who have signed or orally committed:
Class of 2013
NAME HIGH SCHOOL POSITION
Katie Roustio O’Fallon Outside hitter
Katie Stadick Watertown (Wis.) Middle blocker
Michelle Strizak Cincinnati Mount Notre Dame Outside hitter
Class of 2015
Jordyn Poulter Centennial (Colo.) Eaglecrest Setter
Beth Prince Avon (Ind.) Outside hitter