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Massengale headed to Cal State Stanislaus
RV volleyball standout inks letter
River Valley High volleyball coach Jenny Dove made a bold prediction three years ago.
She claimed then-sophomore Taylor Massengale would be the top volleyball player in the Mid-Valley by the time she was a senior.
Well, it's that time now, and not only has Massengale reached her coach's expectations, she's surpassed them and is taking her talent to the next level.
The Falcons' senior 6-foot-2 middle blocker signed a National Letter of Intent on Friday to play Division II collegiate volleyball for Cal State Stanislaus on scholarship, beginning in the fall of 2013.
The Warriors compete in the California Collegiate Athletic Association against programs such as Chico State, Sonoma State, San Francisco State and UC San Diego, among others.
Massengale was in talks with Cal State Monterey Bay, the University of San Francisco and Montana Tech, but settled on Stanislaus as she felt most "at home" with the Turlock-based program.
Massengale said she really connected with volleyball team members at a camp at Stanislaus this past summer.
"It felt like the right decision because they were all really welcoming," Massengale said. "That's going to be your team and your family so you have to really get along with them."
It was at a volleyball camp hosted by the University of Oregon in Eugene, Ore,, that Dove really saw Massengale start to develop into an elite player. Not for her skills on the court, but in her mental makeup.
At the RVHS library, which was filled with family, teammates, coaches and friends on Friday, Dove became emotional as she described Massengale's personal growth over the past four years.
As a younger player, Massengale took some time becoming comfortable with her tall frame. Dove was proud that Massengale has learned to "love herself."
"You could not ask for a better person than this girl," Dove said in her speech. "Other players look at her and strive to be that."
Massengale becomes the first player in program history to move on to the NCAA level.
She's a two-time All-Tri-County Conference selection, leading the Falcons to back-to-back TCC titles. She was an A-D All-Area selection as a sophomore in 2010 and is the reigning All-Area Player of the Year.
This season, Massengale recorded 341 kills with a .433 hitting percentage. Defensively, she totaled 61 blocks, and in her first year playing the back row, amassed 119 digs.
"Her presence as a volleyball player has set the standard for years to come," Dove said. "Her attitude, her spirit, everything about her is so positive and so good I think she's the epitome of what we're trying to do here."
Stanislaus head coach Christina Lore had an eye on Massengale since her sophomore season.
The biggest adjustment for most collegiate athletes in their first year is time management, Lore said. A rigorous class schedule with midterms and papers is mixed in with practices, road games and training.
Lore believes Massengale, who's undecided on a major at this point, can handle all of that.
"The first thing we look for in a recruit is personality and we really liked Taylor's personality and how well she meshed with the rest of the girls," Lore said. "I like how she reads hitters on her blocking and is able to get her hands on the ball.
"She really fits in well with what we have in the middle."
Massengale's development as a volleyball player was a complex story that started in middle school when she was just trying to learn the sport. It continued her freshman season at RV when she unsuccessfully tried to play setter and continued the past three seasons as she turned in one of the most dominant prep careers by a local volleyball player.
And Massengale's story hasn't even reached the climax yet.
"In my far off dreams I wanted to keep playing and now I'm there," Massengale said. "It's the coolest feeling ever; I can't even explain it."