High School Sports

Prep roundup: Tumwater volleyball standout Kennedy Croft commits to Gonzaga

Tumwater's Kennedy Croft, a soon-to-be junior — who was selected as The Olympian’s All-Area player of the year last fall — announced her commitment to Gonzaga University on Friday via Twitter.
Tumwater's Kennedy Croft, a soon-to-be junior — who was selected as The Olympian’s All-Area player of the year last fall — announced her commitment to Gonzaga University on Friday via Twitter. Staff photographer

One day — make that one hour — was all the time Kennedy Croft needed to decide.

Croft, a soon-to-be junior and volleyball standout at Tumwater High School, announced via Twitter on Friday that she has committed to play for Gonzaga University. She briefly attended a morning session at the school’s four-day camp before her family flew to Hawaii to celebrate her grandparents’ 50th wedding anniversary.

“I went (to Gonzaga), and I was like, ‘I’ve never been here before, but this is super cool,’ ” Croft said. “I met with coaches. It all just kind of flowed.”

“Kennedy left there feeling so excited,” said Tana Otton, Croft’s mother and Tumwater’s volleyball coach. “The camp, the coaching staff — everything was so right. Then we had to leave.”

Now, Croft will get to go back.

“The big part of it was how (first-year Zags coach Diane Nelson) viewed me as a player,” Croft said. “She understood what kind of player I am. I’m not a huge, 6-(foot-)3 person, but she understood what I can bring.”

Something along the lines of a high kills-per-game average. Croft reset her own single-game kills record at Tumwater (31) during the Class 2A state tournament this past November. She was also selected as The Olympian’s All-Area volleyball player of the year, and is the reigning 2A EvCo MVP.

She helped lead the T-Birds to a fifth-place finish at the state tournament in 2015. Tumwater won the state title in 2014 when Croft was a freshman.

Croft, who also heard offers from Eastern Washington and Portland University, said after Nelson made her offer Friday, she consulted her mother and club coach, former Washington State University All-American setter Stephanie Papke, at Puget Sound Volleyball Academy. With the go-ahead from both parties, Croft promptly committed.

“I’m pumped,” she said.

RIVER RIDGE HIRES FORMER STAR WADE

Gabby Wade, a former River Ridge girls basketball star, will be its next coach.

Wade was a second-team selection on the Associated Press all-state team as a senior at River Ridge in 2006.

“The fact that it’s my former high school was very appealing to me,” Wade said. “I have a lot of pride in the school and I’m excited for the opportunity to be in my old stomping grounds.”

The Hawks advanced to the Class 3A tournament three times during Wade’s tenure, including a second-place finish in 2005.

“If you really watched River Ridge, what made them successful was Gabby,” River Ridge athletic director Gary Larson said.

Wade played for Western Washington and was an assistant coach for two years with Pacific Lutheran.

Wade, who was hired near the end of the school year, replaces River Ridge football coach Steve Schultz, who filled the position for one season.

Lauren Smith: 360-754-5473, @smithlm12

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