Webster chooses Texas

Volleyball

October 31, 2008|By Katherine Dunn | Katherine Dunn,katherine.dunn@baltsun.com

St. Paul's Bailey Webster wanted to go to a college with a big-time sports program. As the nation's No. 1 volleyball recruit, she had her pick of most of them.

Yesterday, the 6-foot-3 outside hitter said she had chosen Texas.

"When I went there, I felt like I fit in," Webster, 17, said. "I loved the girls and I loved the teams. I wanted to go to a big school that was good in sports. They're top five in volleyball, No. 1 in football and top five in basketball, so you can't do much better than that. Just the environment on campus is great because they have so many sports that are great."

She plans to sign a national letter of intent Nov. 12.

Making that choice wasn't easy. Webster, named the top recruit this fall by Prep Volleyball.com, drew the interest of more than 160 schools.

She eliminated such volleyball powers as Penn State and UCLA before taking her final visits to Texas, Florida, Stanford, Washington and Alabama, where her sister Brooks is a senior hitter.

After returning from Washington on Sunday, she decided on the Longhorns. Wednesday night, she made her final phone calls.

"I'm relieved and I'm excited," said Webster, who had 18 kills in last night's three-game semifinal victory over Bryn Mawr. The No. 2 and defending champion Gators return to the Interscholastic Athletic Association of Maryland A Conference finals at 5 p.m. tomorrow at Roland Park against No. 3 Mount de Sales.

"Everyone's been texting me," Webster said last night, "but they're congratulating me on going to the championship, too. I'm so relieved. Now, I can focus on the game for [tomorrow]."

One of the things that put Webster among the nation's elite young players is her leaping ability. She can touch 10 feet, 8 inches, which her St. Paul's coach, Kelli Wilkinson, said is high even for an Olympian.

Last season's All-Metro Player of the Year and Maryland Gatorade Player of the Year, she averages seven kills a game. Even more impressive, 60 percent of her hits go for kills.

Webster's stock also rose when she made the U.S. junior national team and helped it win the gold medal at the NORECA World Championships in July in Mexico.

One of her teammates in Mexico, Shadare McNeal, from San Diego, also has committed to Texas, Webster said. With McNeal rated No. 5 in the country, she said, that could give the Longhorns this season's top recruiting class.

Joppatowne's appeal regarding football forfeits is denied. PG 4

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