Curran signs letter with Iowa Western
By BRETT MARSHALL
There was never any doubt in Casey Curran's mind that she was going to play volleyball at the collegiate level once she completed her prep career at Garden City.
The biggest question was whether or not her college career would possibly include basketball and/or softball, both sports that she has played while at GCHS.
On Thursday, though, Curran eliminated the two additional sports and will focus solely on her favorite sport, volleyball, after signing a NJCAA letter-of-intent to play at Iowa Western Community College in Council Bluffs, Iowa.
"When I first started visiting schools, it was my first one and right away, I felt at home," Curran said during the signing ceremony at GCHS. "It reminded me of Garden City and the players there reminded me my team here."
The Lady Reivers have one of the elite programs in the NJCAA Division I volleyball world. Currently, Iowa Western is 40-2 and ranked No. 4 in the latest NJCAA poll. The Lady Reivers' lone setbacks came on a lengthy road trip west where they lost to No. 3-ranked College of Southern Idaho and to No. 14-ranked Western Wyoming.
"They've got really good coaches and their players are all really good, so it's a great program to move into," Curran said.
Curran said she had visits to the University of San Francisco (NCAA Division I), which she said was simply too far from home, and to Missouri University of Science and Technology, located in Rolla, Mo.
"Missouri Science has a really good program, too, but they don't have the nursing program that I was looking for," Curran said.
The 5-11 Curran said she will likely see action as a setter for coach Darrin McBroom and also might see playing time as a right outside hitter.
"I think I improved my blocking, a lot of passing and learning to move my feet and staying low," Curran said of her improvement during her junior and senior seasons in which the Lady Buffaloes captured Western Athletic Conference titles. Curran also was named The Telegram's 2011 Area Volleyball Player of the Year.
"Casey improved her leadership this year, and it had more to do with her teammates," GCHS coach Sara Stecki said. "Skill-wise, she gained more confidence in the front row and worked her way around the blocks better."
Iowa Western first noticed Curran while she was playing for the Wichita Power-Incredibles, a club volleyball team that plays in the off-season during the school year and the summer months.
"I'm ready to start practice and it will be a different environment for me," Curran said. "I'll miss the girls here, but the girls on the team there are really nice, too."
Iowa Western, under McBroom's tenure, has posted a 172-22 record (.887 winning percentage) and has made appearances in the NJCAA National Tournament six consecutive years, including a fifth-place finish in 2011. They own victories this year over nationally-ranked Jayhawk Conference teams Hutchinson and Butler. They also own match wins over No. 1 and 2-ranked San Jacinto (Texas)-Central and Western Nebraska Community College.
"Casey's just a solid kid, a solid player in every aspect," McBroom said Thursday in a telephone interview. "She can set, hits well and has strong ball-control skills. I've been impressed with how hard she's worked, the dedication that she has had to get her to this opportunity."
McBroom confirmed that Curran will be playing setter for his team in 2013, and will be one of two 5-11 players at that position.
"She will give us some more versatility and depth and that's always what a coach looks for," McBroom said. "She's played multiple sports, so you know you're getting a good athlete."
All-WAC team: Curran was selected to the 2012 All-Western Athletic Conference team which was announced Thursday.
Curran was the lone GCHS player selected to the first team despite the fact the Lady Buffs won the league championship for the second straight season. Juniors Taryn Tempel and Jacksenie Tornero were honorable mention selections for Garden City.
Others selected to the first team were Jai Chapman of Liberal (Player of the Year); Alexis Sanchez of Dodge City; Brenna Haines of Great Bend; Riley Hay of Liberal; and Mikayla Linn of Hays. Other honorable mention picks were Bonny Boultinghouse of Great Bend; Ciera Lampe of Dodge City; Katie Garcia of Liberal and Shea Briggs of Hays. Liberal's Thais Allen Baziquetto was chosen as coach of the year.