At the end of the day, Elmwood-Murdock’s Hanna Justesen knew she was going to have to leave something behind – either her days of playing in the front row or her aspiration of playing at national volleyball power.
Earlier today, she announced the decision to stick with the ability to unleash her powerful swing and go to George Washington, which gave her a full four-year scholarship and the ability to come in and compete right away for an outsider hitter/full-rotation position.
“They’re really confident that I can come in and make an impact right away,” the 5-foot-10 Justesen said.
Some larger schools, such as Nebraska, wanted Justesen as just a back-row player. The Huskers wanted her to walk-on. Justesen said she ultimately decided she wanted to find a situation where she could make an impact, play a full rotation and get her college paid for.
Besides George Washington, Division I programs Belmont, North Carolina-Greensboro and University of Maryland-Baltimore County also wanted Justesen in that capacity and she visited all the schools. It was ultimately the school in Washington D.C. that made her feel most comfortable.
“When I went to George Washington, I got to spend the night on campus with one of the players that was there for summer school and we walked around at night and it’s so beautiful there,” Justesen said. “That took away a lot of worries and doubts that I had.
“I think (being so far from home) will be really good for me. It will be a new experience.”
Justesen started getting waves of recruiting attention following her performance for the Nebraska Juniors 171 team at the AAU National Championships in Orlando. This was her first year with the club, and she said it took a while for things to get going for her, but everything clicked when it mattered most.
“I finally stepped it up,” she said of her play in the tournament. “I was new to the team this year and I struggled with my confidence early on, but the last few tournaments I finally started playing. I wasn’t making mistakes, I was making plays.”
Justesen credited the Nebraska Juniors program with her getting the exposure she needed to fulfill her goal of playing in college. She also said playing with back-row players like Omaha Marian’s Brittany Witt and Norris’ Kylie Hohlen made a huge difference.
“Our serve receive was spot on as a team all weekend,” Justesen said of the AAU tournament.
Justesen becomes the 12th player from the Class of 2014 to commit to a Division I school. George Washington plays in the Atlantic 10 Conference and went 16-14 overall and 10-4 in the conference last year.