Apr 22, 2015 8:10 PM by Ross Field
Not many Northern Section athletes earn scholarships to Div-I schools, but Pleasant Valley's Lily Justine is an exception. The junior committed to play sand volleyball for UCLA. Action News Now's Ross Field filed this report.
As a volleyball player for Pleasant Valley High School, Lily Justine has always wanted to attend a Division-One college. Now she's made her dream come true by accepting a partial scholarship to UCLA. Except Justine won't be playing indoors, instead, she'll be on the sand.
"I'm pretty excited to go to UCLA and such a prestigious college. It's a beautiful campus, you're in the heart of LA, you're right in the middle of all the action, but it's also a pretty laid back place," said Justine.
With her commitment to UCLA, Justine is believed to be the first-ever girl in Butte County to earn a sand volleyball scholarship.
The sport is in just its third year of existence at the NCAA level. Forty schools participated in 2015 and in 2020, the number of schools participating could be beyond 100.
"It's definitely growing," said Justine. "2016 will be the first national title for that sport because they'll be enough teams playing, so when I go to school it will be in its second, third round of national championships, so I think it'll be really revved up and a lot of competition."
Competition she is hard at work preparing for. A 5-foot-10 outside hitter for the Vikings, the junior Justine has expanded her sand skills to transform into a dynamic player in the two-on-two game.
She's spent several weekends competing in USA Volleyball and AAU tournaments.
"I have so much fun, every tournament I go to I make new friends, it's really good competition and I get good experience," said Justine.
Justine has her eyes set on playing sand volleyball beyond college. She'd like to become a pro and perhaps one day play in the Olympics. But with a-year-and-a-half remaining before college games begin, she's planning to work harder than ever to prove when she steps in the sand in LA that she belongs there.