On the dotted line

By JONNY ZAWACKI

News Sports Writer

Wednesday was an important day for many high school athletes and for Alpena’s Isabelle O’Neil she made it official on National Signing Day that she would continue her volleyball career, signing a Letter of Intent to play at Lake Superior State University.

“I’m really excited. I’m looking forward to meeting my team and play at a higher level. I chose LSSU because they really brought me in and made me feel really comfortable and I went on an overnight stay. The teammates were all awesome and I loved the coach and loved her philosophy,” O’Neil said.

Despite the recent struggles of the LSSU volleyball team, including a winless 2015 campaign, O’Neil hopes to become a major part of the rebuilding process in hopes of eventually turning the program around.

She’s the second local player to join the Lakers in two years after Rogers City’s Jena Tulgestke signed last year and competed for the Lakers in 2015.

During her time as a member of the Alpena High volleyball team, O’Neil was one of two players who was brought up as freshman and played four years on the varsity team.

“I really think Isabelle is prepared for this next step, especially for her position, colleges are really looking forward to that determination for a libero or a digger and that’s what she has. She never gives up whether it be practice or a game and gets the team to work hard every single play and that’s going to be her major contribution to the team,” Alpena volleyball coach Melissa Doubek said

O’Neil got the opportunity to make an impact for Alpena when she was a freshman and made the most of it. Despite getting limited playing time early on, she displayed her hard work and dedication, eventually earning her a starting spot.

O’Neil capped off a solid high school career in the fall and ranks second in program history for most digs in a season. O’Neil was also a second team All-Big North Conference selection in a season where the Big North that had four All-State selections and two teams that made it to the quarterfinals. O’Neil also was selected to the All Area Dream Team.

“My time on the Alpena volleyball team was a lot of fun and I have a lot of good memories, it really prepared me to play at a college level because I got to experience all different types of teams and it really set me up to know what to expect in the future,” O’Neil said.

The future Laker is currently undecided on what she is going to be studying, but no matter what O’Neil decides, she’ll have no shortage of determination or work ethic.

“Isabelle is one of those fine athletes that will be taking her talents to the high school level to the college level. I think she is the perfect example of what coaches love because of the size of her heart and I think that is why she is going to be successful in taking her game to the next level and I wish her all the best,” Alpena Athletic Director Tim Storch said.

Jonny Zawacki can be reached via email at jzawacki@thealpenanews.com or by phone at 358-5690.