LANSING |Illiana Christian senior Zach Thompson was not aware he did something no other Illiana boys volleyball player has done.
According to coach Nikki Van Dyke, he is the program's first player to receive a college athletic scholarship. Thompson will play for Lindenwood University, an NAIA school in Belleville.
"I didn't even know until last year that they gave scholarships for volleyball," Thompson said. "I am just happy and honored to have the opportunity to continue playing in college."
Thompson, an outside hitter, started as a libero, but made the transition a smooth one.
"He has been such a great leader," Van Dyke said. "He had great ball control and was super fast. Over the summer before his sophomore year he grew — a whole bunch."
Van Dyke said he worked on his game.
"He also developed a killer vertical. He started swinging outside as a sophomore and has stayed there ever since," Van Dyke said. "He has such a love, passion and desire for the sport its intoxicating."
He has 135 kills, and an 83 percent hitting consistency. Thompson also has 47 aces and 62 digs.
Thompson said he liked the move and made the adjustments.
"I went from being a defensive position to one where you are on the attack," he said. "I love the game and I had to learn a new position, but I was willing to do it. Coach Van Dyke really worked with me to make me a good outside hitter."
Thompson has an 82 percent hitting consistency and 42 percent kill percentage. He had 18 kills at the Loyola Lakefront tournament in April.
"You are ore in the middle with things, so you have to work with your teammates and know where everyone is on the floor," Thompson said. "We all communicate and we work pretty well together."