CASSTOWN — Miami East High School senior Ava Prince made her dream a reality Thursday afternoon in the Miami East High School gym.
The daughter of Steve and Dawn Prince. she signed her letter of intent to play volleyball for the Saint Francis University Red Flash.
“I always dreamed about playing Division I volleyball in college,” Prince said.
And she is very aware of the contributions of the two people who made it possible.
“My mom (Dawn) is a former volleyball coach,” she said. “My parents gave me every opportunity to be successful in volleyball and I am very appreciative of that.”
Prince said the choice to play for Saint Francis was an easy one.
“I really like all the players and coaches,” she said. “They treated me great. It gave me the opportunity to play Division I, which is something I always wanted. And they had the major (Occupational Therapy) that I was looking for.”
Miami East volleyball coach Danielle Batt said Prince is ready for the next challenge.
“It is (always great to have a player go Division I),” Batt said. “Ava (Prince) has worked very hard for this and very deserving of this opportunity. I think it is a great opportunity for her.”
And if Batt had any questions about that, they were answered this season.
“Over the previous three years, you watched to see if she could take it to the next level,” Batt said. “And she definitely did that this year. She did things out on the court this year that she has never done before. It is exciting to see what she will do at the college level.”
In her four years, the setter has proven to be one of the most versatile players in the program — and she will leave with two school records.
Prince became a started immediately as a freshman, setting a school record with 713 assists.
She followed that her sophomore year with 481 assists, 132 digs, 81 aces, 63 kills and 17 blocks.
As a junior she had 648 assists, 103 aces, 166 digs, 87 kills and 17 blocks.
This past season, she led the conference with 576 assists and had 91 aces, 167 digs, 118 kills and 26 blocks.
“She really could (play anywhere on the floor),” Batt said. “She is very good passing the ball, blocking and serving. But, it was clear her best position was setter.”
Her career assists total of more than 2,400 is also a school record.
“I really wanted to get to 2,000 assists,” Prince said. “And I was able to do that.”
The team also had much success during her career, advancing to the D-III regional semifinals as a junior and district finals as a freshman.
“We had a lot of big wins and played in a lot of big matches,” Prince said.
She said her freshman year was a turning point.
“I was starting as a freshman,” she said. “Then, before my junior season there was a date when all the colleges can reach out to you. And I heard from a lot of good Division I schools. And I have played at the Elite Volleyball Training Center, which is one of the top club programs.”
And Prince looks forward to the challenge at the next level.
“I feel like my best volleyball is in front of me,” she said. “I have one more year of club volleyball to help get me ready. And I feel like I am still getting better all the time. I was probably 11 when there were tryouts for a club team and my mom told me to give it a shot.
“I fell in love with it right away. Everything I have accomplished is because of my parents. I do it for myself and for them.”
And the result has been turning her dream into reality.
Sports Editor Rob Kiser can be reached at [email protected]