Sharp signs with MSSU

■ The se­nior hit­ter helped lead Siloam Springs to Class 6A semi­fi­nals.

Siloam Springs Herald Leader - - SPORTS - By Gra­ham Thomas Staff Writer gth­omas@nwadg.com

Shay­lon Sharp thought her chances at play­ing col­lege vol­ley­ball were in jeop­ardy when she tore the ACL in her left knee last Fe­bru­ary.

Hard work in the re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion af­ter surgery and a strong fin­ish to her se­nior sea­son at Siloam Springs are giv­ing her that chance af­ter all.

Sharp, an out­side hit­ter for the Lady Pan­thers, signed a na­tional let­ter of in­tent Wed­nes­day to play vol­ley­ball at Mis­souri South­ern State in Jo­plin, Mo.

“It’s ac­tu­ally a really big ac­com­plish­ment for me be­cause of tear­ing my ACL,” Sharp said. “I didn’t think I was ac­tu­ally go­ing to be able to play in col­lege any­more. That was al­ways my goal. To be able to do it is awe­some for me.”

Sharp was an all-state se­lec­tion in Class 6A as a ju­nior in 2016 be­fore the in­jury, which oc­curred dur­ing club sea­son. Sharp has played sev­eral sea­sons with Ozark Ju­niors, which she helped win the USA Vol­ley­ball Girls Ju­nior Na­tional Cham­pi­onship in 2015 be­fore her sopho­more year.

Sharp missed the first 10 matches of her se­nior year, and the Lady Pan­thers strug­gled to a 1-9 record with­out her. But Sharp re­turned for the fi­nal 23 matches and Siloam Springs went 16-7 in that span.

“She worked to get this chance, and that’s pretty com­mend­able for her,” said Siloam Springs head coach Joellen Wright. “Back dur­ing the re­hab, we’d be out here play­ing and she would be star­ing through the win­dows of the weight room. You could just see her say­ing, ‘I want to be out there so bad.’ Even on the bench through those first 10 matches it was hard for her, but I think it drove her to con­tinue to re­hab.”

The high­light of the sea­son was Sharp’s per­for­mance in the Class 6A state quar­ter­fi­nals against Mar­ion. She smashed 22 kills and had 27 digs as the Lady Pan­thers ral­lied from a 2-0 hole to come back and beat Mar­ion 3-2. The vic­tory snapped a streak of six straight sea­sons where Siloam Springs was de­feated in the quar­ter­fi­nals. The Lady Pan­thers (17-16) lost to even­tual state cham­pion Green­wood the next af­ter­noon in the state semi­fi­nals.

De­spite miss­ing 10 matches, Sharp fin­ished sec­ond on the team with 237 kills and a .370 hit­ting per­cent­age.

“I don’t know that she ever got back to where she was (be­fore the in­jury),” Wright said. “She was pretty dog-gone close. I think she’ll con­tinue to grow from here. I don’t think she’s done get­ting to where she really could be.”

Sharp will play out­side hit­ter at Mis­souri South­ern and ex­pects to com­pete for play­ing time right off the bat.

“They said that ob­vi­ously I’m go­ing to be out­side (hit­ter),” Sharp said. “They’re look­ing for an all-around player. They also said I could be po­ten­tially fight­ing for a spot my fresh­man year.”

Bud Sullins/Spe­cial to Siloam Sun­day

Siloam Springs se­nior Shay­lon Sharp, mid­dle, signed a let­ter of in­tent Wed­nes­day to play vol­ley­ball at Mis­souri South­ern State. Pic­tured are: Front from left, fa­ther Daron Sharp, Shay­lon Sharp, mother Sherri Sharp; back, brother Bos­ton Sharp, Siloam Springs vol­ley­ball coach Joellen Wright, and sis­ter Maken­zie Sharp.

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