PRINCETON — Things worked out really well the last time Illinois Central College volleyball coach Sue Sinclair paid a visit to Princeton High School.
In 2009, she signed former Princeton Tigress Leah Shaw and the two of them helped lead the Lady Cougars to a national championship later that fall. Shaw was named as a First Team All-Tournament. On Tuesday, Sinclair revisited PHS to sign Tigresses standout setter Michelle Kelly. Sinclair would like none better than to see history repeat itself.
"It worked out pretty good for us," Sinclair said of her first PHS connection with Shaw. "You go back to the same pond when you have success. I'm excited to get another player from Andy (PHS coach Puck) as much as I am getting Michelle. I know what she's going to come in fundamental wise. I have a lot of respect for what Andy has done for athletes as a person on and off the floor because again that's really a big piece for us."
A two-time BCR Player of the Year and Three Rivers All-Conference pick in volleyball, Kelly is also adept at kicking the white ball in soccer, as the reigning BCR Player of the Year. In the end, Kelly said she simply, "knew I wasn't ready to be done (with volleyball)."
"I started looking and knew (ICC) had a pretty good program in the area, because I didn't want to move too far from home so this seemed like a pretty good option," said Kelly, who also looked at IVCC and Sauk Valley.
At this point, Kelly is not sure if she wants to pursue volleyball beyond her two-years stay at ICC. She wants to pursue a nursing degree and will concentrate on general studies at ICC.
Sinclair said she feels Kelly can contribute in a lot of ways for the Cougars.
"She's a very analytical-type player so in the role of setter, that's huge. That allows us to think things from the strategic standpoint and scouting the opponent," she said. "Secondly, I think she's extremely athletic. I love that she's a two-sport athlete. I think the fact she understands all the angles in the sport of soccer honestly plays a part defensively in the sport of volleyball. That's a great attribute to bring to the court for us."
ICC was ranked sixth in the nation last year.
Puck said Kelly made a big impression from an early age at PHS and played like a coach on the floor for him.
"I'm truly, truly going to miss her," said Pick, noting she will return for summer camp to work with the "future Michelle Kellys" of PHS. "I've known Coach Sinclair for many, many years. It's a wonderful program She'll be able to compete at a national level at junior college and it will be fun for her. She'll get to travel to lot and play some very good teams.
"And if he chooses to go on after two years. Sue has always has been wonderful in giving the kids option on where they go and making sure they are happy."
Shaw continued her volleyball career for Division I Bowling Green University, reaching the NCAA Tournament her senior year.
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