To say Hayley McSparin has had a successful career at the University of Alabama would be a major understatement.
McSparin, a 6-2 senior middle blocker for the Crimson Ride and a 2016 Highland graduate, is closing in on finish that will leave her name in the Alabama record books as one of the most successful players in school history.
Coming into the Tide’s final eight matches, McSparin is ranked in the top 10 at Alabama in hitting percentage (seventh place, .302), solo blocks (seventh place, 66), block assists (ninth place, 263), and total blocks (10th place, 329).
She is only the fifth player in program history to rank in the top 10 in all four of those categories.
“I actually had no idea until it happened (being top 10 in blocks), and I saw a post about it and it happened ... and I guess it helped that I have played almost every game since my freshman year,” McSparin said. “Just adding up all those throughout my four years now helped me get to that point.”
So far this season, McSparin has been top two on the team in blocks and recorded season highs in blocks with six against Texas A&M on Sept. 24 and kills Oct. 18 against LSU.
McSparin, who played for coach Tina Beyer at Highland, credits all her coaches, especially first-year Crimson Tide coach Lindsey Devine and her teammates, for helping her develop into a strong all-around player at the net after entering Alabama four years ago as a quiet, unassuming freshman.
“Everyone throughout the process has made into the player I am,” McSparin said. “All my high school coaches, my club coaches, and then my college coaches and teammates they’ve all seen exactly what I could do and they push me hard every day to be that person.”
McSparin played volleyball with the Highland Middle School team in seventh and eighth grade before continuing her career at HHS.
Additionally, McSparin’s parents — Tonya and stepdad Andy Walter, along with her biological father Shawn McSparin — got Hayley involved with the Rockwood Thunder volleyball club as a sophomore, and she continued playing with that club through her senior year.
“It was over in St. Louis, so like three times a week we would drive her over to practice before she got her license and once she was able to get her license, then she would drive herself over there,” Tonya said.
McSparin is also closing on 1,000 kills for her career. She entered the week with 937 kills, needing just 63 more to become 16th player in program history to reach that milestone.
Being able to achieve these marks in her final season at Alabama has been a mixed blessing for McSparin.
“I guess it’s just like a bittersweet moment my senior year being able to achieve these things and not know it,” McSparin. “I just go out there every day hoping to be the best I can be and, in doing so, I’ve been able to achieve these things.”
End nearing in Tuscaloosa
McSparin is looking forward to closing out her senior campaign over the next two weeks of November as Alabama heads into the stretch run of the regular season. She hopes some of her friends and family can make it out when the Crimson Tide visit Missouri for an SEC match Friday, Nov. 15, in Columbia, Missouri.
Finishing her career as one of the program’s most successful players is an honor McSparin, who will graduate in May with a master’s degree in sports management, will cherish long after leaving Tuscaloosa.
“It’s an honor to be looked at as one of those players,” McSparin said. “I came in not knowing as a freshman if I was gonna be able to play at all, but to end up one of the best players to come out of Alabama means a lot to me. And I hope along the line I can help other girls do this as well.”