OMAHA – Even though she hasn’t even started her senior year of high school, Elkhorn South’s Ashley Knight is a veteran of the recruiting process.
Last week, Knight ended a long, winding search for a college home by giving her verbal agreement to play volleyball at Villanova. Nearly a year ago, Knight gave her verbal to Georgia State, but after that school underwent a coaching change, the 5-foot-9 setter reopened her recruiting process.
Ultimately, she said, things worked out great.
“Everything happens for a reason, I fully believe that,” Knight said. “In the end, it worked out best for me.”
Knight helped lead Elkhorn South to a Class B State Runner-Up finish last season with 1,000 set assists, including a combined total of 104 in the Storm’s opening-round upset of Lincoln Pius X and semifinal upset of Omaha Skutt.
Villanova, which went 12-17 overall a year ago and 4-12 in the Big East Conference, was in need of a 2015 setter because its two current setters will be a senior and a junior this fall. At this point, Knight is the only setter in future Villanova recruiting classes.
“I really like (Villanova coach Josh Steinbach’s) philosophy. He wants to have a competitive team,” Knight said. “You have to come in and compete for your spot. I may not get it, but I know that I have a chance to compete for it.”
Knight, who has played her club volleyball with Nebraska Elite, including this past season on the 171 KO team, said the competitive nature at Elite is what has helped her get to the position she is in currently. In fact, Villanova first saw Knight play for Elite at the USAV Northeast Qualifier in April in Philadelphia.
Villanova then stayed in contact with her and watched her again at the AAU National Championships in Orlando in June. She went out to the Villanova campus last week, which is when she got the offer and gave her commitment. She then went to Milwaukee with Elite teammate and Ohio State recruit Megan Wickey for the USAV Junior Beach Championship, where the pair finished tied for 5th in the 18U Open division.
Knight will study Biological Sciences at Villanova. The academics at the school also played a large roll in her choice.
“That’s something that is really important to me,” she said. “I wanted to be at a program with competitive volleyball and academics. Villanova fit my profile. When I got on campus, it just felt right.”