High school volleyball: Huntley sophomore Jakubowski commits to Seton Hall

Huntley's Taylor Jakubowski already had her mom's (Michelle) and dad's (Andy) blessing.

All that was missing was the go-ahead from her older sister, current Creighton sophomore and women's soccer player, Taryn Jakubowski.

"She asked me if this is where I see myself playing in two years and if my heart was really in it," Taylor Jakubowski said after visiting Seton Hall. "I checked all of the boxes, and she asked again, "Do you see yourself playing here in two years?'

"I said, 'Yeah, I do,' and she told me to go for it."

After visiting the Big East campus in South Orange, New Jersey, with her mom, dad and two younger brothers, Jake and T.J., on Wednesday, the Huntley captain and sophomore committed to playing volleyball for coach Allison Yaeger and the NCAA Division I Pirates.

After talking it over with her family, she announced her decision Thursday via Twitter.

Taylor will join her sister, mom and dad as the fourth family member to play D-I athletics. Michelle – who coaches volleyball at Barrington – played volleyball at New Orleans and Northeastern, and Andy – who coaches baseball at Huntley – played baseball at Northeastern.

"The coaching staff really believes in me, and they're just so nice and caring," said Jakubowski, who already has 1,868 career assists in two seasons as the starting setter for the Red Raiders. "There's an open-door policy where we can talk about anything. ... It's so friendly. I love that about it."

Jakubowski earned Northwest Herald All-Area first-team honors her freshman year, leading the Raiders to their first Fox Valley Conference championship, along with Northwest Heral Girls Volleyball Player of the Year (current Southeast Missouri State freshman) Ally Dion.

Jakubowski was named a captain as a freshman by her teammates despite never playing at the high school level before. She led the area with 989 assists and more than 300 digs on defense that season. As a sophomore, she led all local players with 879 assists and led the conference with 58 aces.

Seton Hall offered Jakubowski a scholarship shortly after her freshman year, and she visited the school with her mom in February. She said she did not have any other offers but was looking at other schools with her parents.

Jakubowski visited again, this time with her entire family minus Taryn, and decided Seton Hall is where she wanted to spend her four years in college. Getting Taryn's blessing and approval was the last hurdle, Taylor said.

"I've been playing [volleyball] since I was 6, watching my sister play soccer her whole life, seeing her go to Creighton," Taylor said. "It was a new reality to me and showed me that I still needed to work hard. I wanted to play somewhere big just like [Taryn] was, so I started working harder."

The Pirates finished 16-15 last season and fifth in the Big East at 10-8. Yaeger has been the head coach at Seton Hall for the past six years, and the Pirates have 10 or more Big East wins in three of the past four seasons.

Jakubowski said the campus is "in one little area, but spread out," has an "old, but new kind of feel to it," and the fit just felt right to her. "It's small, but big," she said.

Jakubowski said she wasn't looking to commit early but fell in love with the school and didn't question her gut. Now that she has her college decision out of the way, Jakubowski said she is looking forward to putting even more work into her junior and senior seasons at Huntley.

Huntley was unable to defend its FVC title last season, losing to Crystal Lake Central by one match in the final conference standings, but the Red Raiders did win their fourth regional in five years, and their second straight with Jakubowski. Huntley is 55-16 overall the past two years and 28-4 in FVC play.

"It means a lot to me. I'm really excited," Jakubowski said. "It means my hard work is definitely paying off. But it means I still have to work on everything and not be content with where I'm at. Just keep working even though I accomplished one of my main goals (to play in college).

"Now that's kind of over, and now I have to work harder to prove I can play at that level."

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