FOUNTAIN CITY, Ind.
When Jerry Middleon took over the Northeastern High School volleyball team in 2011, his five then-juniors had very little experience and won just eight games.
A turn-around year later saw the Knights win 25 games and three of those seniors are college-bound to play volleyball.
Cierra Guenther and Sarah Scotten signed to play for NAIA Indiana University East on Thursday, while Kerri Kircher is expected to sign for Stephens College in Columbia, Missouri next week.
“It makes me feel good, just because I didn’t really think I was going to play,” Scotten said. “Then I realized how much I missed it and how much passion I have for it, and I was like, ‘I want to play.'”
Scotten plans to study social work, while Guenther will pursue nursing.
“I’m just really excited, because I can stay close to my family and play the sport I love,” Guenther said. “I played since my freshman year, so I didn’t want to stop playing. It was always my dream to play in college, so it was just nice to be able to play here.”
The Red Wolves have a strong program in place since joining the NAIA in 2007 and are coming off a season in which they led the nation with 44 victories and reached the NAIA National Championship Tournament final site.
Adam Stevenson was named head coach of the program recently, taking over for Charlie Brown.
The Red Wolves also feature 2010 Northeastern graduate Caitlin Burroughs, who will be a senior in the fall.
“I know the program that comes from this school and I know the area, and I had the girls come down and visit and play with my girls, so that was a good adjustment to see whether or not they could handle playing at the college level,” Stevenson said. “You could take the best player in the state of Indiana, but if they can’t handle playing at the next level with those kids — that was the nice thing — so I did get to see them play many times, and I just like having local kids on my team.”
Middleton added: “Those seniors raised the bar and I think everybody’s excited about volleyball around here.”