Connecting with a potential future college coach is one of the most important parts of the recruiting process for any athlete in any sport.
Crystal Lake South junior volleyball standout Carly Nolan found that connection this past weekend at Cincinnati and with Bearcats' head coach Molly Alvey.
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"She and I have the same mentality," Nolan said Tuesday. "We both want to win and work hard. Our personalities really connected."
And with that Nolan, a 6-foot middle hitter, gave her verbal commitment to Alvey to become a Bearcat in the fall of 2015. She chose a full scholarship offer from Cincinnati over an offer from Iowa.
"They're a very young team this year but they have the chance to be really good the next couple of years and in the future," said Nolan, a Daily Herald all-area choice who has helped the Gators to a 37-3 record this season and a berth in the Class 4A state semifinals, where they will play defending state champion Benet Friday night at Redbird Arena in Normal.
Cincinnati is just 1-26 this season but has had a perennially strong program, winning Big East Conference championships in 2008 and 2010. The Bearcats now play in the American Athletic Conference. They were 12-20 last season but 27-10 the year before that.
"It's a great fit for her," said CL South coach Jorie Fontana, who played her college volleyball at Loyola but was also recruited by Cincinnati. "The city is a great choice for her and it's a building program. Carly loves those challenges and she can make an impact there. She wants to be pushed. Great players connect with their coaches and teammates. Cincinnati is lucky to have her."
Nolan, who plays club volleyball for Sky High, leads the Gators this season with 367 kills. She also has 41 blocks and is tied for the team lead with 51 aces. She's also the Gators' defensive leader with 261 digs.
After a long recruiting process Nolan, who is undecided on her course of study, is just happy to have the decision made.
"It will be a lot less stress now," she said. "Now I can just go out and think about the game and not about the coaches I have to call after the game. I can enjoy it and have fun now."