Beaver believer

SCOTT UNGER -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 7:37 AM ET

Oregon is a long way from Selkirk, but it's the only place standout volleyball player Jill Sawatzky wants to be when she starts her collegiate career in the fall.

After leading the Lord Selkirk Royals to the provincial AAAA girls volleyball crown in each of her three years with the team, the St. Andrews resident has committed to the Division I Oregon State University Beavers in Corvallis, Ore., for the 2007-08 season.

'EXCITING'

"It's exciting, really exciting," Sawatzky said yesterday. "I just can't wait to go.

"I've always wanted to go to the States. I am not sure why. I think in my mind the level of volleyball just seems to be better at the top, with the top schools."

And Sawatzky had plenty of schools that were willing to make that happen.

"There was Colorado State, Kansas State and Washing ton State," the 6-foot power hitter said of the schools that were vying for her talents, "but Oregon State was the one."

That's because she's excited to take instructions from a couple of well-known folks behind the Beavers bench.

"The main reason I want to go to Oregon State is because of the coaching," Sawatzky said. "They are two of the most qualified coaches that you can find around."

The head coach there is Terry Liskevych, who coached the U.S. women's national team from 1985-96.

Assistant Mark Barnard was the head man of the Australian women's national for four years before joining the Beavers for the 2005-06 season.

Lord Selkirk girls volleyball coach Rick Scott had nothing but praise for his team leader from the past three seasons.

"She's a very coachable player," he said. "Her teammates or anyone that has played with her will say what a great teammate she is.

"She's top-notch player, but sure doesn't conduct herself like that. She's very humble and great to coach. It's definitely been a pleasure working with her.

"There's been some great players from Selkirk come out of here that have gone on to play at Canadian universities. They have gone on to have great careers, but this is probably the highest a player has ever gone to a U.S. school."

The Beavers play in the Pac-10, which Scott says is the top women's volleyball conference in the NCAA.

"It's probably the toughest conference in the NCAA," he said, "so it's a great accomplishment."

Now that she has her school chosen, Sawatzky can look at what she will do with her time in the classroom, but she's in no hurry.

"I'm just sort of keeping everything open right now," she said. "Look into a bunch of stuff."


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