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updated: 11/13/2013 9:45 PM

Antioch's Falco can't pass up Eastern Michigan

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  • Antioch's Sam Falco celebrates after a win during the Sequoits' regional semifinal win over Grayslake Central.

      Antioch's Sam Falco celebrates after a win during the Sequoits' regional semifinal win over Grayslake Central.
    Steve Lundy | Staff Photographer


Pulling a tiny libero jersey over her long torso had to be a stretch, so to speak, for Sam Falco.

"It was a very small jersey," Antioch girls volleyball coach Jamie Atkinson said with a smile. "It was a medium."

Fortunately for Falco, she could breathe in her snug jersey -- and breathe easy after she helped the Sequoits' JV team top district-rival Lakes.

With starting libero Hannah Skoog sidelined with an injury, the 6-foot-4 Falco volunteered to play Skoog's position in a JV match this fall.

"Sam asked if she could play back row," Atkinson said. "So I said, 'Why the heck not?' "

"I love passing," Falco said. "People don't see that I can pass. They just see a 6-4 girl."

A better fit for Falco? Eastern Michigan University.

A jersey awaits her.

So having painted her fingernails EMU's school colors of green and white, and wearing a green "Eagles volleyball" T-shirt, with green and white balloons at her side, the senior signed a national letter of intent Wednesday to play Division I volleyball for Mid-American Conference member Eastern Michigan.

Falco had verbally committed to the Eagles in early May. EMU had emailed her early in her junior year to express its interest in her after having come out to watch her play as a sophomore.

"We talked for a while and I really connected well with the coaches," Falco said. "I didn't consider anywhere else, to be honest. I went to visit only one school for volleyball, and it was Eastern Michigan."

Falco took an unofficial visit to EMU's Ypsilanti campus over Spring Break, stayed with players on the team and watched them practice.

The Eagles were a hit with the powerful hitter.

"I just fell in love with it," Falco said. "It's an awesome campus."

The Eagles offered her a full-ride scholarship the last week of April.

"My coach tried convincing me to wait two weeks to take my offer," Falco said of her Wisconsin Juniors AAU coach Evan Berg. "He was like, 'You want to wait two weeks to see if you get any other offers.' But I knew right when I got the offer that I wanted to take it. I made myself wait a week and then I just called the coach and said, 'I got to take it. This is the opportunity of a lifetime.' "

Eastern Michigan is getting a special student-athlete. Falco sports a 3.6 GPA (4.0 scale), scored a 26 on her ACT and has taken five AP classes, including a pair this year. She plans to study pre-law.

On the volleyball court, the team captain has been a Daily Herald All-Area selection the last two years. And while she has ideal middle-blocker height, she's played right side for the Sequoits the last two falls.

"Because she puts up a huge block," Atkinson said. "Outsides struggle getting around her."

Wednesday was a particularly proud day for Falco's family. Her mother, Cathy, is one of eight children, and Cathy's dad, George Sobon -- who was in attendance Wednesday to support his granddaughter -- counts 16 grandchildren. Sam will be the first on Cathy's side to go to a four-year college.

"I'm excited," said Falco, who's as tall as her dad, Andy. "I want to make a name for myself."

She already has.

• Follow Joe on Twitter: @JoeAguilar64

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