Hayley McSparin, a 6-foot-2 sophomore middle hitter at Highland High School, has given a verbal commitment to the University of Alabama.
She also had scholarship offers and lots of interest from Mississippi, Maryland, Louisville, Georgia, Maryland, Iowa State, Bradley and South Carolina Upstate, among others.
Verbal commitments are non-binding. Volleyball recruits cannot sign their letter of intent until the fall of their senior year.
"There have been so many schools talking to her for so long now and they made a lot of college visits," Highland coach Tina Beyer said. "They really evaluated everything that was available to her. It's just a big sigh of relief.
"She's really pursued all of her options and made a lot of school visits. Her and her family have been through all of the details, they looked at all the options."
McSparin visited Alabama last weekend and came away impressed with the coaches, the program and practically everything else connected to the Crimson Tide.
Maybe it was because she got to personally visit with Alabama football coach Nick Saban during her recruiting trip, or because she got to see the national championship trophies and his championship rings.
"I thought it was the right time," said McSparin, who also visited Mississippi. "It was just a big lift off my shoulders and lets me concentrate on school so I can work myself to get read for college. (Alabama) coach (Ed) Allen is amazing and the staff and the campus ... it felt right.
"I was smiling the whole time I was there."
McSparin tied for the Highland team lead in kills last season with 178 and was second with 66 blocks.
She also plays for the Rockwood Thunder club volleyball team.
"She really has grown a ton, I've seen Hayley since she started playing in sixth grade," Beyer said. "She's just grown in leaps and bounds and has made a ton of progress. She's become a stronger and more consistent hitter for myself and her club team and she's working hard to improve her blocking as well."
McSparin said switching to a stronger club team helped push her game higher as well.
Beyer said while McSparin is already athletic and talented, there could be an even higher ceiling by the time she reaches Alabama.
The Crimson Tide was 24-9 last season and had three honorable mention All-Americans. Allen, the former head coach at Tulsa, is in his third season at the Southeastern Conference school better known as a national football powerhouse.
Former Althoff and Edwardsville star Kayla Fitterer was an all-conference player for Alabama.
"I think they already see things in her, but I would presume as well there's potential there," Beyer said. "She's putting in the time. It's not just her volleyball skills because she's doing the conditioning and training that goes along with it. There's great potential and it's very exciting."