Sharp signs with MSSU
■ The senior hitter helped lead Siloam Springs to Class 6A semifinals.
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.”
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.