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Tonopah sends another to the college ranks

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CAITLYNN WILLIAMS of Tonopah Valley goes up for a spike last season at Arizona Lutheran Academy. Williams signed with Clarendon College in Clarendon, Texas, July 6 to play collegiate volleyball. View photo by Ray Thomas
CAITLYNN WILLIAMS of Tonopah Valley goes up for a spike last season at Arizona Lutheran Academy. Williams signed with Clarendon College in Clarendon, Texas, July 6 to play collegiate volleyball. View photo by Ray Thomas

Caitlynn Williams becomes 4th Lady Phoenix volleyball player to reach next level in last 2 years

Tonopah Valley High School, with a total enrollment of less than 400 students, is becoming an unlikely source for a volleyball factory.

Caitlynn Williams became the third member of the 2017 senior class to sign on to play collegiate volleyball when she committed to Clarendon College in Clarendon, Texas, July 6. She’ll head to the community college in north Texas at the end of July to begin her journey.

Williams said Clarendon felt like home, making it an easy choice to go there.

They’re just like Tonopah,” she said. “They’re a small, close community. It made me feel at home, even though it’s 12 hours away.”

Williams ultimately decided on Clarendon over academic offers from Northern Arizona University and Colby Community College in Colby, Kan.

I wasn’t going to play at all, so I’d been turning everyone down,” Williams said. “After taking time off, I decided that sports are what I wanted to do, and [Clarendon] had my program and I can complete it a year earlier than anywhere else.”

Williams will study nursing, and plans on becoming a physician assistant.

Ed Andersson, Williams’ coach at Tonopah Valley, said he’s proud of how far she has come since her freshman year.

When she told me she was going, it was a great feeling,” Andersson said. “The program is not about wins and losses. The program I go into is getting them to that next level and getting college paid for.”

The Lady Phoenix have produced four college volleyball players in the last two seasons. Kassandra Renteria, a 2016 graduate, played at Benedictine University in Mesa last season. Christina Renteria and Naomi Dalley, both part of the 2017 class, signed to Western New Mexico University and South Mountain Community College, respectively, in May.

All four of these girls worked hard for four years, obviously,” Andersson said. “Coming from a small school and [having] no club experience, like most colleges want these days, it’s just totally amazing that they’re there. This is school history getting three girls in one class to the next level.

I’m happy for them, but I’m sad for them to go, also. They’re just a different type of athlete. [Not many] have the work ethic these girls had.”

Williams, Renteria and Dalley were part of a two-year run that included 42 victories and an appearance in the Division V state championship game in 2015. Williams said the state game will be one of the biggest lasting memories from her days at Tonopah Valley.

Just having that bonding time together, having that adventure time together,” Williams said. “Getting to have our banner on the wall and being able to say that was my class was really exciting.”

Andersson said Williams and her contemporaries have left a legacy for future classes at the school.

The younger girls have to see just because we’re from a small school, that doesn’t mean anything,” Andersson said. “If you work hard, you can get to the next level. It doesn’t have to be a [Division I] school, as long as your college is getting paid for, or some of it is. That’s all you need.”

Williams will keep the Lady Phoenix spirit with her at Clarendon, she said.

Tonopah is a great school, and I hope to carry the name and give them a good reputation.”

 

Shane McOwen can be reached at smcowen@westvalleyview.com or on Twitter @ShaneMcOwen.

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