Good all-around skills. Even better reach. Great work ethic.
Volleyball recruiting is an inexact science, but having the aforementioned ingredients should result in a successful formula. Or such is the hope for Campolindo High’s Kirsten Sibley, who earlier this week orally committed to play volleyball for Hawaii in 2016.
Although the Rainbow Wahine coaching staff cannot speak about Sibley until she signs in November, her high school and club coaches see the 6-foot-2 outside hitter as a perfect fit for the Hawaii program with her competitive drive and passion for the sport. Sibley is the first Vision Volleyball Club player to commit since Amber Kaufman (2006-09) and the second in as many seasons out of Campolindo (Calif.) — Cougars setter Joe Worsley signed to play this coming season for the Rainbow Warriors.
"Kirsten had a lot of options, but Hawaii was her No. 1 choice," Campolindo coach John Vuong said. "She’s a very low-key person but has a lot of emotion and passion when she plays. And she’s very athletic.
"One thing that has impressed me is her maturity. We took the team to a Las Vegas tournament and she asked to sit out so another player could get more playing time. That shows her level of leadership, thinking about her team."
Sibley has been a three-year varsity starter, earning all-league honors every season as the Cougars won three consecutive Diablo Foothill Athletic League titles. She’s a six-rotation player who has been a consistent threat on the outside hitter but particularly takes pride in her defense.
"That has been my focus, getting better on defense so I can play all the way around," Sibley said. "When I was 14, I was in the gym passing for hours. It was tiring, but I knew I needed to keep pushing through if I wanted to get better. And I love to play defense.
"It’s been my dream to play for a school that was big on volleyball and had a great coach. I’d like to go on and play professional volleyball and I know Coach Dave (Shoji) will get me there."
"The best part of her game is probably her contact (on the ball), she has good reach, armswing and pop," said Will Yuen, Sibley’s Vision Gold 17s coach. "And she has that strong work ethic, puts in the work that all great players recognize needs to be done. They don’t lose focus on where they want to be and what they need to get there.
"We knew she wanted to play at a prominent program. It was a matter of finding the right fit."
Given Sibley’s love of the beach — she’s a competitive swimmer and also plays beach volleyball — she had narrowed her choices to warm-weather schools, with Hawaii and Pepperdine the top two contenders.
"The past few weeks have been all a blur," she said. "I was the one who contacted (Hawaii) and Coach Dave said he’d see me play at JOs (the Girls Junior National Championship, June 23-July 2 in New Orleans)."
Sibley received a phone call right after her club team’s final match on July 1 and "I just started screaming," she said. "I knew in my heart I wanted to say yes right then, but I needed to talk it over with my family.
"I can’t wait to play for Hawaii. I want to come and help win a national championship. That would be so awesome."
Sibley expects to make her official visit in September. Her coaches already have told her what to expect with the fan base and the decades of excellence.
"It’s the perfect fit," said Vuong, whose wife is a Kamehameha graduate. "She won’t miss home much."
"There is no other place like it for volleyball," said Yuen, a former assistant at Santa Clara.
Sibley is the second oral scholarship commitment for 2016. Hawaii has also received one from Redondo Union (Calif.) setter Norene Iosia, PrepVolleyball.com national player of the year as a freshman and junior.
Libero Emma Smith of Mira Costa (Calif.) likely will be a walk-on for both indoor and beach in 2016-17.