After a tumultuous and abbreviated senior volleyball season at Napavine, star outside hitter and middle Haily Murray is rolling right through on to college, where she’s getting ready to make her collegiate volleyball debut at Marymount California University this weekend.
Her long-awaited first game with the Mariners Saturday is just roughly five months after committing to MCU in March, and about a month after officially signing on to play in early July.
“It’s been a rollercoaster,” Murray said.
With sports in hiatus last fall, one of the county’s best was reaching out to every college that would listen to see if she could find the right situation for her. Murray heard from Marymount back in December, and after three months of hearing pitches from other colleges, committed to the Mariners in March. She said that Marymount was nearly the perfect situation, looking for schools that had enough departing seniors that she could scratch out a role for herself early in her career.
Murray expects to start in the middle this Saturday when the Mariners open their season against West Coast Baptist.
Her high school coach, Monica Dailey, is not surprised at Murray’s success and arrival on to the collegiate volleyball scene, citing that even at Napavine she saw tools that translated immensely to the collegiate level.
“She’s very smart about the game, she sees things,” Dailey said. “I felt like she did a really good job her junior and senior year. She really stepped up as a leader.”
In her final season for the Tigers this past spring, Murray was nearly unstoppable at the net, posting double-digit kills per match for a total of 169 over the course of the truncated season, to go along with 33 aces and 26 block kills. But where Murray was most useful was her ability to play all over the floor and hit from wherever the Tigers needed her. With experience hitting from all over the court, her versatility is helping her carve out a niche at Marymount, already.
In high school, Dailey went as far as to let Murray lead drills and coach up her younger players, highlighting her advanced insights into hitting and skills she learned from club volleyball. To have Murray go on to show out on the college stage means a lot to her coaches and former teammates back home.
“We’re really proud of her,” Dailey said. “She’s worked hard at what she’s achieved and she is the one that put in the time and the effort. I’m proud of her for doing that and following her dream of wanting to play at the next level … She has a thirst to learn and I think she’s going to be an asset for that program.”
Murray’s rollercoaster year has only continued since officially signing with the Mariners back in early July. Later that same month, Murray packed her bags and moved down to Palos Verdes, Calif. to begin preparations for the season.
For the past three weeks, Murray has been getting ready for the toils of college athletics and being a student-athlete at MCU. Nearly every day she wakes up at 6 a.m., attends practice, does weight training, and is beginning study hall to prepare for college academics, as well. Though she will finally see some payoff in her debut for the Mariners this weekend, Murray’s rollercoaster year may be far from over.
“This has been my goal since I was a freshman and I started volleyball and fell in love with the sport,” Murray said. “I’m super excited and proud that I got all the great coaching and experience with all these different great coaches and they were able to push me so I’ve been able to do this. I’m living out my dream.”
The significance of an athlete from Napavine heading off to play volleyball at a university isn’t lost on Murray, either. Being able to put a small town from Washington on the map and live out her dream at the same time is not a chance she’s taking lightly.
“It goes to show just because you’re from a small town doesn’t mean you can’t compete in a bigger league or at a big college,” she said.