Staying in green

Great Crossing’s Reagan McLean, left, has committed to Marshall University to play volleyball for the 2021-22 season and beyond.

Not even one-quarter of the way through her junior volleyball season at Great Crossing, outside hitter Reagan McLean delivered a definitive statement about her future: I am Marshall.

McLean effectively put an end to her recruiting more than a year ahead of schedule by verbally committing to an NCAA Division I offer from the university roughly two hours from home in Huntington, West Virginia.

“It’s such a relief, because now I can play and not have to worry about being watched,” McLean said. “I can just go all out, and it’s raised my confidence a lot.”

Volleyball remains a growing sport in the county compared to the depth of competition in Lexington and Louisville, but McLean is at least the second Georgetown product to reach D1.

Scott County graduate Alleah Stamatis, also a 5-foot-11 outside hitter like McLean, started her career at Jacksonville and is now at Mississippi State.

McLean had a non-exact location but specific qualification in mind when the process began.

“I wanted to go somewhere close to the beach,” McLean said.

Marshall won’t fulfill that requirement, but McLean felt a warmth and peace of mind from the Thundering Herd’s sales pitch that trumped the appeal of sand and surf. Most casual fans know the school for “We Are Marshall,” the movie starring Matthew McConaughey about the football’s program’s persistence through a tragic plane crash that killed its entire roster of players and coaches in 1970.

The manner in which that event galvanized the community is apparent almost a half-century later, McLean noted.

“I went to a camp there, and it was so welcoming,” she said. “They showed me the campus, and it was really pretty. Plus the story behind it, and the movie to go along with it, it’s like they’re a family. I feel like most colleges aren’t like that, especially if they’re bigger.”

McLean was a pivotal figure in Great Crossing’s 4-0 start as a program, followed by last Thursday’s spirited comeback in a four-set loss to perennial power Henry Clay.

With only one senior out of 10 players on the Warhawks’ varsity roster, McLean’s leadership a year ahead of schedule is crucial.

“It’s no wonder that Marshall went after her, especially this early in the process. She’s a six-rotation kid,” GC coach Adam Ivetic said, meaning that McLean is capable of playing any position on the court. “She’s up at the net. She’s got a tough serve. She’s hard-nosed on defense. She’s just such a well-rounded player.”

Nor has McLean rested on her laurels as a preseason all-state selection, or her height, reach and vertical leap advantages at the net.

“She worked so hard in the off-season, going to the gym, just trying to get stronger every day,” Ivetic said. “It seems like she’s killing 75 percent of the balls she’s touching. These past couple games, she’s been our best serve receiver, too. We’re lucky to have her. She’s awesome.”

The Herd, which plays in Conference USA, is 1-2 to start this season after a 10-19 record in 2018.

“Their coaches were so easy to get along with, compared to other coaches,” McLean said.

Kal Oakes can be reached via email at sports@news-graphic.com.

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