In a few weeks, Julia Handy will start her junior year at Turlock High and ready for the upcoming prep volleyball season. The young setter, however, won't just be weighing the Central California Conference competition, she will also be looking to narrow down her future college prospects.
A year after Handy, along with club volleyball teammates Jadyn Tubbs and Whitney Barnes, helped her Rage 15 team win a national title, the offers to play college volleyball have been rolling in. She has narrowed her decision to five final choices — University of Arizona, University of Southern California, Santa Clara University, University of Pacific and Cal Poly San Luis Obispo.
“Before I started getting recruited, I started to see what kind of school I wanted, education and population wise and East or West Coast,” said Handy. “I emailed as many coaches as I could since I know of them through college football, so all the Pac-12 schools for sure.”
Handy, who was named a 1st Team All American by PrepVolleyball.com after a tremendous season for the Rage 16s squad, is focused on making a verbal commitment before the start of the high school season.
“I also talked to (Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas) and (Texas Christian University), but they were too far away. I think the schools I am looking at, when looking at colleges is the atmosphere and I love the West Coast,” said Handy. “I don't want to leave to the East Coast really, cause around here I am closer to home and that type of thing.”
Villanova University in Pennsylvania and Colgate University in New York were among some of the other universities that were excited about Handy, but in the end, the proximity played a huge factor for the superstar setter.
Handy was part of the Rage 16s team that finished in 5th place in the 16 Open at the USA Volleyball Junior Nationals three weeks ago in Indianapolis.
Open is USAV's highest division for the age group consisting of the top 36 teams in the country and the team exceeded expectations for head coach Gabe Leal, given that Barnes(Pitman HS), the team's leading hitter, did not play due to a lower leg injury.
Handy was named to the All-Tournament team — after being named MVP a year ago when the team won the 15 Open. She was also named a first-team All-American by PrepVolleyball.com. The honor recognizes Handy as one of the top 16-year-old talents in the nation.
Until she commits, the soon-to-be junior setter will continue to collect awards and praise as her ability on the court continues to develop.
“No matter what the venue or where we are I always say its playing for each other,” said Handy. “Championship game or anything, we give our best effort no matter who is there. We just play our best, that is what coach Leal said. He said not to worry about who is watching, so it never affected us.”
Handy now heads into her second year having already won a CCC title for the Bulldogs last season after the team amounted an overall record of 32-10 and 9-1 in the CCC, which catapulted them as a No. 2 seed in the Sac-Joaquin Section Division-I playoffs.
“My goal is to win another CCC, but the goals for the team are for things to get better and work on little things,” said Handy. “As a team, will implement big goals and things to get better for practice and usually repetition and reach that goal for ourselves and see how it will improve us as well.”
The Bulldogs schedule has yet to be released but the season officially begins on Aug. 8.
“I think if we get another chance to get into the same situation as last year, we need to never let the moment get to us and keep playing our game and not trying to do too much,” said Handy of last year's upset loss in the second round of the playoffs. “We need to stay true to ourselves and do our own thing and not outdo ourselves.”