Stanley signs with East Texas Baptist University for volleyball

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Liberty Hill senior Savannah Stanley (#3) gets a dig during a Lady Panther home game against Salado. Stanley, who played Libero for Liberty Hill, will continue her volleyball playing career at East Texas Baptist University. (Alex Rubio Photo)

strong>By KEITH SPARKS

Liberty Hill senior Savannah Stanley, who played Libero for the Panther volleyball team, signed with East Texas Baptist University on Feb. 7. ETBU is a Division III university in Marshall, just a short drive from the Louisiana border.

Stanley was able to take a campus visit to Marshall, and immediately fell in love with the coaches and her future teammates. She also has a number of family members in the area, which should hopefully make the transition a bit easier.

“I have lots of family that lives in East Texas, so I’ll be really close to a lot of my family over there,” Stanley said. “I absolutely love the coaches. I love the coaches. They’re so nice, and they’re young, so I just felt like it was a really good environment for me. Everyone I met was super nice, and I love the team.”

Stanley considered attending the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor, as well, but her gut told her ETBU was the way to go, leading her to make her decision just a week prior to signing with the Tigers.

“I just had this feeling that I should be going to ETBU,” she said. “It was weird, I don’t know. I just knew that I should be going there.”

Stanley plans on pursuing a nursing degree, and the success rate of those that have done the same at ETBU played a big part in her decision to become a Tiger.

“Apparently, for the last four years, they’ve had a 100 percent passing rate,” Stanley said. “They’re just now building a new nursing facility in town, so I’m pretty excited about that, too.”

Between now and her first day on the court, Stanley’s focus will simply be on getting some reps in and getting back into playing shape before the fall.

“Definitely just getting lots of reps in, considering that club volleyball ends a lot sooner in my age group, because they want you to start getting ready for college,” Stanley said. “Probably just getting into the gym with my friends and stuff and getting lots of reps before I go. Definitely doing lots of workouts, too, because I’m kind of out of shape right now, so I’m going to work out more so I can be more prepared for those college workouts. Just getting extra reps in.”

Stanley said her family was initially rooting for a school a bit closer to home, but they gave her a lot of freedom to make her own decision and have supported her throughout the process.

“They’re pretty excited,” Stanley said. “They didn’t really have a preference. They just wanted me to be happy, so they made the decision all up to me. We sat down and had a talk, so I know they wanted me to be a lot closer to home, because now I’m going to be, like, five and a half hours away from home rather than like 45 minutes. I know they’re kind of sad about me being farther away, but they’re really excited.”

The prospect of meeting new people in East Texas after spending so much time around the same people in Liberty Hill is exciting for Stanley, as well as simply being on her own.

“I’m super excited about new people,” Stanley said. Liberty Hill’s kind of a small town. It’s growing a lot, but I’m really excited about the new people and being on my own. Just having the whole college experience, I’m pretty excited for.”

Although she admitted the transition might be tough, Stanley hopes that being on the volleyball will make it easier.

“I think it’s going to be really hard at first, honestly, but once I start meeting people, I think I’m going to like it a lot more,” she said. “Definitely, it’ll be hard for me at first, because I’m kind of shy at the beginning. Once I open up, I’m super loud and super friendly, so it shouldn’t be that hard once I meet people. I like that I’m on a team, so I’ll be meeting people pretty fast.”

The ETBU volleyball team finished with a 13-19 overall record last season, finishing third in the East Division of the American Southwest Conference, which also includes UT Dallas, UT Tyler, Belhaven, LeTourneau, and Louisiana College.

Sports@LHIndependent.com

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