Seventeen-year-old Krista Vansant had a feeling right when she got to Seattle. The outside hitter from San Bernardino, Calif., is one of, if not the most recruited player of the 2011 class. She had plenty of options and had visited several schools during the recruiting process. She liked UCLA, Arizona and Penn State. But there was always something that wasn’t quite right.
“When we got to Seattle, everything just lined up,” Trish Vansant, Krista’s mother, said. “At other schools it was always ‘everything is great except for this, and everything is great except for that.’ But at Washington, she felt at home right away.”
Ironically the Pac-10 school had never been at the top of Krista’s list. Initially she wanted to go to USC, then Stanford. She also looked at several other schools along the way.
“She hadn’t had Washington at all on her radar,” said Trish. “She liked Georgia Tech, and she really liked Arizona. It was always a list of other schools and then ‘well….maybe Washington’.”
It helped when Head Coach Jim McLaughlin went to watch one of Krista’s practices at Rancho Valley Volleyball Club (RVVC). The personal effort he made was the impetus for Krista to take him up on a visit to the campus. And that first visit was all it took.
“I knew by the second day of camp that I wanted to commit,” Krista said. “It was hard not to do it right away.”
Krista’s RVVC coach Danny Scott warned her against making an emotional decision.
“It was all about finding the best fit for her,” Scott said. “She’s got some things that she wants to do and she had a chance to see some great schools. We really wanted her to find the best place, where she could do her best. She was so excited when she was up there and we just wanted to make sure she waited until she got home to let it sink it a little bit.”
The time that Krista spent with McLaughlin, his staff, and the Huskies made an incredible impression on her, and it ended up being a straightforward decision.
“I will play my best volleyball at Washington,” she said. “Jim really has the type of coaching style that I like. He’s a stat guy, there’s always a whiteboard at practice, and he’s always talking with you about your next goal. Plus his staff is incredible.”
The coaches aren’t the only source of excitement for Krista. She’s also thrilled about her future teammates.
“The players really made me feel like I could fit in. They really made me feel like I could be a part of that family,” she said. “Kindra Carlson has been especially amazing, and she is one of the best volleyball players I’ve ever seen.”
In addition to Carlson, Krista notes other Huskies, current and former, with whom she can’t wait to join ranks. Among them are Tama Miyashiro, Jenna Orlandini, Kylin Munoz, and Courtney Thompson, who is, according to Krista, “probably one of the best players in the world.”
Like so many Huskies before her, Krista has high hopes for the type of legacy that she will leave after her time at Washington.
“I hope to win at least one national championship while I’m up there,” she said. “That would be one of the best experiences of my life. It’s something I think about all the time.”
If anyone knows Krista’s potential to be on a national championship team, it’s Danny Scott at Rancho Valley. He has coached Krista for the last four years as she has played on the 18 Premier team since she was a freshman. Few coaches get to spend so much time with one player, and the mutual respect between them is tangible.
“I feel really lucky to have been able to have worked with her for so long,” Scott said. “She’s a quality kid, a quality person. She’s really well grounded, really friendly, really outgoing. She’s just really solid.”
“Rancho is an amazing place to play and they treat you well,” Krista said. “I would call Danny one of my best friends. I really feel like I can go to him for anything.”
Before Krista heads to Washington this summer, she has one more goal to accomplish for her club career: a junior national championship. The team lost to Sport Shack in the championship match in 2010 at Junior Nationals in Reno, Nev.
“We definitely want to get back there,” Scott said. “We’re going to try to get a shot at the gold.”
“Somehow the end of the season is always our peaking point,” Krista said. “We really want to get back there this year and prove to people that you just need a good coach and good technique.”
And Krista Vansant on the court.
Originally published in March/April 2011