Bonneville High School’s Sade Williams is joining an NAIA powerhouse volleyball program where two former teammates are currently playing.
In a Bonneville conference room packed with teammates, classmates, family members, coaches and administrators, Williams signed her letter of intent Thursday with Eastern Oregon University’s volleyball program. She was recruited as an outside hitter, her position throughout her Bonneville varsity career, and is the third eastern Idahoan in as many seasons to sign with the Mountaineers.
Williams will join former Bonneville and club teammate Kiley McMurtrey (Bonneville class of 2017) and former club teammate Jet Taylor (Rigby class of 2018) in La Grande, Ore.
“It’s gonna make life a lot easier because I know both those girls,” Williams said. “It’s gonna help to have people there that I know.”
Williams joins a program that has a history of success. The Mountaineers went 25-9 this season, reaching the round of 16 of the NAIA Volleyball Championships in November in Sioux City, Iowa. It was the fifth consecutive NAIA nationals appearance for the Mountaineers, who had a first-round bye this season upon placing second in the Cascade Collegiate Conference tournament. Eastern Oregon was ranked No. 11 in the NAIA Women’s Volleyball Coaches’ Postseason Top-25 Poll released Dec. 5 and graduates two players.
“The environment is super good there,” Williams said. “The coach, it’s really easy to click with her. She really cares about all of the players.”
Williams has visited La Grande twice. On her first visit during her junior year, she was able to practice with the team and participate in drills. Her second visit was earlier this season with Bonneville head coach Chantal McMurtrey to watch Kiley play.
She was also recruited by the University of Providence in Great Falls, Mont., where fellow Bonneville senior Paige Dixon signed in November, and PAC 12 school University of California Berkeley but said the latter did not have any scholarships left. Eastern Oregon made a lasting impression on her early in the recruiting process, however.
“The first trip I went on to Eastern, I knew that was the place I wanted to go,” Williams said.
Williams had 322 kills, 54 aces, 42 blocks and 246 digs this season for the 4A state runner-up Bees and concluded her varsity career with 1,280 kills (No. 5 all-time at Bonneville), 188 aces, 187 blocks and 1,122 digs. She has played club volleyball with Bonneville’s program and was a member of the 17U team consisting of all eastern Idahoans which placed second in the 17 American Division of the USA Volleyball Girls’ Junior National Championships in July in Detroit.
Williams said the opportunities to play at such a high level as a high school athlete have prepared her for college.
“In club, we went to so many big tournaments and faced so many big teams from areas we don’t normally get to see,” Williams said. “It’s made me stay engaged in the game.”