WADSWORTH — Dozens of NCAA Division I volleyball programs spent the past year courting Kacie Evans.
Only one, however, offered the combination of athletics and academics that the reigning Gazette MVP was looking for.
The Wadsworth sophomore has committed to attend the University of Georgia, where she will continue her career in the fall of 2019. The Bulldogs are one of the flagship members of the Southeastern Conference and went 13-18 last season.
“This is what I’ve wanted to accomplish for a long time, so knowing that I’ll be playing college volleyball at Georgia is just amazing,” Evans said. “Once I visited the campus, I knew that I would feel right at home there for four years.
“The entire (recruiting) process was truly nerve-racking, so making this decision has relieved so much stress. It’s really good that it’s over and really great that I’ll be going to my top choice.”
The 6-foot outside hitter selected the Bulldogs over a list of prominent schools that included Arkansas, Clemson, Louisville, Missouri, Cincinnati, and Towson. She cited Georgia’s well-regarded physical therapy and athletic training programs as being key to her decision.
The only holdup in Evans agreeing to play for the Bulldogs was their offseason coaching change from Lizzy Stemke to Tom Black. Stemke initially offered her a scholarship, but it was in limbo until the school hired a new staff.
“My JO coach at AVC (Meredith Gromala), who is also my recruiting coordinator, knew Coach Black, and an assistant coach from Georgia’s previous staff put in a good word for me,” Evans said. “When (Black) contacted me, he said, ‘We already liked you, so we’d like to honor the offer.’”
Evans has earned All-Ohio recognition in both her seasons with the Grizzlies, in addition to being a two-time All-Suburban League National Conference and All-Gazette selection.
In 2016, Evans led the county and conference with 376 kills and a 5.15 average per game, topped by a school-record 32 against Revere on Oct. 8. She also made a team-high 333 digs, which topped all local front-row players.
In two years, Evans has collected 634 kills and 676 digs while leading Wadsworth to 33 wins in 46 matches.
“I’m really happy for Kacie because playing D-I volleyball at a high level has been a goal of hers, and she’s worked very hard to achieve it,” said Grizzlies coach Jill Klingbeil, who was named the Atlantic-10 Conference MVP while at Xavier (Ohio). “I think Georgia is a great fit for her to continue her education and her volleyball career. We’re also happy we have her another two years at Wadsworth.”
Evans will join an exclusive list of local athletes to play college volleyball at the top level recently.
Brunswick’s Gabrielle Bulic (Michigan), Jordan Verbiak (Cleveland State) and Ally Badowski (Indiana), Medina’s Carla Relitz (Youngstown State) and Wadsworth’s Ciera Koons (Eastern Kentucky) represented the county in NCAA Division I this school year.