Times Sports Editor
Northview volleyball coach can remember the first time that he saw senior Ashlen Buck play volleyball, and it made an impression.
"From the very first day of open gym her freshman year, she was a tremendous passer," McDonald said in a 2010 interview. "On defense, she had no fear and with the ability to control the volleyball, that was enough for me to see."
Buck certainly made a lasting impression on the Knights' program over her four-year high school career.
Next year she'll look to do the same just down the road wearing Sycamore Blue.
On Thursday afternoon, Buck made her collegiate choice official as she inked her letter-of-intent to continue an already outstanding volleyball career at Indiana State next year.
Buck made ISU her choice over interest from Maryland North Shore, Valparaiso and the University of Southern Indiana. Following her signing, Buck noted that the opportunity to play locally was very appealing as was the Sycamores attention to academics.
"It was definitely close to home and close to my family and friends," Buck said. "I really like the coach, and when I walked around campus it just felt right. I really like that they are focused on school. Their team has a really high G.P.A., and they are all good students. I like their volleyball program and how it's growing."
During her four years at Northview, Buck was part of a program that went a combined 108-33 with a sectional championship her sophomore year. From her libero spot, Buck was charged with being the defensive lynchpin and transitioning her team from defense to offense. Buck got the offense rolling in seamless fashion during a career that included more than 2,000 digs (2,056).
According to McDonald, her passing ability is one of many traits that made her so appealing to college coaches.
"Her ball control really stands out. They rate passes on a 3-point scale, whether you have three hitting options. Ashlen passes phenomenally at probably a 2.7 or 2.8. That's going to give the setter the best chance to set the ball and she puts every ball right there," McDonald said. "Her tenacity, fearlessness and leadership, she's got everything you look for in a college athlete along with being a good student. She was a very easy sell to colleges."
Her love of the sport started early and grew from a young age Buck remembered.
"I started playing (volleyball) at the YMCA in second grade. I've always liked it. I played soccer and basketball, but volleyball has always been my favorite. Maybe it had to do with all the running (in the other sports)," Buck joked. "Maybe I've always liked it because my parents coached it and made it fun. I've always enjoyed it."
Next year she'll join a Sycamore squad that is coached by Traci Dahl, currently in her third year leading an ISU program that continues to improve.
Dahl was an All-American middle blocker and a member of Long Beach State's 1993 national championship team.
"It's definitely going to be faster play. It will be more demanding, getting into the weight room and getting more in shape. The traveling will be different. I'm excited," Buck mentioned in regards to making the transition from high school to college level play.
McDonald mentioned that players of Buck's caliber don't come around very often.
"She has meant the world to us in terms of her defense and her scrappiness and being a leader. Everything you could dream of in a kid, she's exceeded every expectation. She's made our team 10-fold better," McDonald said. "I've said from the moment I first saw her that she's the best libero that I've ever seen and playing at the 4A level makes it that much better. We play against a lot of tough teams and she sticks right in there, plays defense with no fear."
Buck for one is going to leave with plenty of special memories at Northview she said.
"Definitely winning the sectional," Buck said of one of her top Northview memories. "Just this year with the team, we've been really close, and I've enjoyed getting to know everyone."