LAURINBURG — Scotland senior Ashley McGugan never dreamed she would be a collegiate volleyball player, but practice and persistence turned a gangly teenager into a college athlete.
Ashley signed her letter of intent to play NAIA volleyball with St. Andrews University last week surrounded by several generations of her family.
“I was horrible when I started, but I practiced and ended up getting better and better,” she said. “I was looking at other places, but I really wanted to play volleyball. St. Andrews had a good program and a winning team which made my decision. I had been to the campus before, but meeting with the coaches and players it felt like home.”
The St. Andrews women’s volleyball program, under six-year head coach Holly Mandeville, finished the 2017 season with a 20-10 overall record and a 13-5 conference record. St. Andrews finished second in the Appalachian Athletic Conference (AAC) South Division behind conference champion Reinhardt University (17-1).
Ashley plans to major in special education and hopes to become a special education teacher. After she graduates Ashley plans to teach outside of Scotland County, but hasn’t decided where.
The Lady Scots middle blocker finished her senior campaign with 188 kills with a .286 hitting percentage to go along with 52 aces. Ashley tallied 66 blocks and 10 digs on the defensive side.
All of those statistics earned Ashley a place on the all-conference team and recognition from Lady Scots head coach Mallory Wheeler. As a former college volleyball player, Wheeler was thrilled to earn that Ashley would be taking her talents to the next level.
“Ashley is great in the classroom and was our middle blocker, my position in college. She was a very strong player for us with her blocking and hitting efficiency. St. Andrews is getting two great players,” said Wheeler. “I know those skills will only improve with the amount of practice that’s required at the college level.”
Wheeler said she would do her best to make it over to St. Andrews to watch Ashley, and her teammate Kandon Luquer who also signed with the Lady Knights last week.
“It’s awesome as a first year head coach to have two girls sign to play at the next level,” Wheeler said. “I played at the next level, so I know what it’s all about. I’m super proud of them and excited for them.”
Ashley said the other factor that made St. Andrews her final choice was the close proximity to her family — who attended every game and pushed her to achieve her goals.
“It’s great because most people they go away to college and their families can’t come watch them. It’s just cool that I’ve have them there to watch and support me,” Ashley said. “My entire family is very excited.”
Amber Hatten-Staley can be reached at 910-506-3170 or firstname.lastname@example.org.