By Kyle Daubs

It was the start of July and Ashlyn MacDonald told Coles County Sports she was not going to continue her volleyball career. 

After finishing her career at Lake Land College, she was going to forgo her junior and senior seasons. 

Psyche.

All it took was a pandemic, a pushed-back volleyball season, and an opportunity.

With all the variables in place and a few discussions within her inner circle, MacDonald will take the next step, committing to play volleyball at NCAA Division II’s Southern Indiana University in Evansville, Ind.

“I had honestly decided that I was just going to be focusing solely on school,” said MacDonald. “But an opportunity arose for me to be able to play volleyball again. And after talking to my family, friends, and my Lake Land coach, I decided that I wasn’t done with volleyball and wanted to continue playing these next two years.”

MacDonald was named First-Team All-Region last year after a stellar sophomore season. The former Mattoon Green Wave outside hitter led Lake Land with 299 kills, a 4.51 average. She also owned a hitting percentage of .251 and blocked 34 shots. 

Southern Indiana finished 15-15 overall with a 7-8 mark in the Great Lakes Valley Conference. USI lost five seniors from that team, giving MacDonald an opportunity to play right away. 

“I’m extremely excited to get back into the gym and back into the swing of volleyball,” said MacDonald. “I’m happy to be back as a student-athlete and can’t wait to see what this season holds.”

USI turned out to be a pretty easy choice because the school offers her major and her best friend will reside in the same city. Bella Coffey just committed to play softball at the University of Evansville.

“I chose the University of Southern Indiana because they have a really good program for my major, sports management,” said MacDonald. “The school is also not too far away from home and is very affordable. It also helps that my best friend, Bella Coffey, who now plays softball for the University of Evansville, lives 15 minutes away from me.”

MacDonald, who has been practicing with the team for a few weeks in small groups, will have her first official team practice Monday.

“A huge shout out to my Lake Land coach, Ashli Wicker, for always believing in me and pushing me to be the very best in everything I do,” said MacDonald. “Also, the coaches at USI gave me this opportunity to play the game that I love again. I can’t wait to finally have our first official team practice Monday.”