Volleyball receives another commit

Volleyball receives another commit

Caroline Welsh, a two-time all-state libero from Marietta, Ga., has orally committed to the University of Illinois volleyball program.

The 5-foot-8 sophomore made her decision early this week after visiting the UI campus for a second time.

“They have a great balance on the academic side and the volleyball side,” Welsh said Wednesday night. “I felt very comfortable with the coaches. I felt like (I was) at home eight hours away from Atlanta.

“The fan support they get — and they have a great kinesiology program, which I’m thinking about — overall it just felt right.”

A varsity starter since early in her freshman season, Welsh helped Atlanta Westminster place second in the Class AA state tournament each of the last two years. After averaging 3.54 digs per set as a freshman, she raised that to 4.62 last year while limiting her serve-receive errors to 21 for the season.

Last month, PrepVolleyball.com named Welsh a highest honorable-mention member on its 2013 Soph 79 list.

In 2012, she became the first freshman to be selected to a Georgia Volleyball Coaches Association all-state team as a Class AA choice.

“She’s passionate about the game; she lives it, breathes it,” said Westminster coach Jona Braden, who formerly served as a collegiate head coach at Kentucky and Butler. “She’s that silent kind of spark plug that brings everything together.”

Welsh already ranks third in school history in career digs and has set records for total digs and digs per set in a season.

“She does it — I hate to use the word ‘effortlessly’ because that’s kind of a cliche — but she has the physicality to do it with grace,” Braden said.

Welsh said most recruiting interest in her came from SEC and ACC schools, but she was immediately open to Big Ten schools as well, Besides Illinois, Welsh took campus visits to Indiana and Purdue. Her brother, Chandler, is a junior at Purdue, so a Welsh family that has lived in Florida and Georgia is familiar with the Midwest and its very different winters compared with the Southeast.

“He adjusted to the weather completely fine,” Welsh said of Chandler, “because I think that was one of our big concerns —  how I was going to handle the weather. For my first visit (to the UI), it actually was snowing and I was having so much fun I knew that wasn’t going to be a problem at all.”

Welsh indicated her choice ultimately came down to Illinois and Virginia.

“I knew that I (had) found the two best schools I could possibly find academically and volleyballwise,” she said.

The second trip to Champaign-Urbana this week helped her make up her mind and decide not to delay making a commitment any longer.

“This past Monday, everything fell into place, and I knew that’s where I wanted to spend my college days and years,” Welsh said. “And it was just like, why wait? Because that’s the one I want to go to.”

Welsh currently is involved in her club volleyball season as a member of the Roswell, Ga.-based A5 Volleyball Club,

She also is on USA Volleyball’s radar, being selected each of the last two years for the Girls’ Select A1 National Training Team Program.

Welsh is one of six high school players currently orally committed to the Illini, including the third in the Class of 2016.

On the way
A list of Illinois volleyball recruits who have orally committed:

Class of 2015
Alison Bastianelli — Marysville, Mich., middle blocker
Jordyn Poulter — Centennial (Colo.) Eaglecrest, setter
Beth Prince — Avon (Ind.), outside hitter

Class of 2016
Kaylin Korte — Morris, outside hitter
Jackie Quade — Fort Wayne (Ind.) Carroll, outside hitter
Caroline Welsh — Atlanta Westminster, libero

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