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Illinois Bound / East volleyball player Dean chooses Fighting Illini for college commitment
Columbus East's Gabby Dean goes up to attack the ball against Bloomington South in the first round of the sectional at Columbus East, Thursday, Oct. 15, 2020. Paige Grider for The Republic Paige Grider | For The Republic
It’s been a busy summer for Gabby Dean with club volleyball season wrapping up for her and now preparing for her upcoming junior season at Columbus East.
There was one big decision that was lifted off her shoulders Wednesday.
Dean, who will be a junior in the fall, announced that she verbally committed to continue her volleyball career at Illinois.
“It’s been really crazy. I’m so excited. I’m so glad that I made my decision,” Dean said.
Dean was highly coveted by many schools since she was in the seventh grade. She’s had numerous looks from many schools in the Big Ten, ACC and SEC.
When the NCAA lifted its dead period last month, college recruiting, including face-to-face contact, was back in full swing.
A lot of schools wanted Dean, but she said that a lot of factors played into the decision to make Illinois the right choice for her.
“They had everything I really wanted in a college. The more I talked to their coaches, it was really the best fit for me,” Dean said. “I love their coaches, and I think their coaching staff goes really well with how I want to play. I’m going to be pushed to be a better player and they’re going to push me to be a better person, too.
“They have really good coaches for my position, and that played a huge part, too, that I’m really excited for,” she added. “They have a really big focus on team culture, which is something from the different teams that I’ve been on. That’s something I really like. I want to be around people who can push themselves to be the best that they can be, so the team culture was a huge aspect in making that decision.”
With the decision behind her, Dean can now turn her attention to her upcoming season for the Olympians. Last season for East, Dean recorded 171 kills, 24 assists, 70 blocks, 33 digs and 24 aces, and the team finished 20-6.
Due to the late-June flood caused water damage to both gyms at East, the team has been practicing elsewhere.
“I’m really excited,” Dean said. “Obviously, we’ve had issues with our gym, but I think we’re trying to persevere and push on and look forward to having the opportunity to play, especially since last year with the mess of COVID.”