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Freshman Volleyball Player Follows Coach to UofA

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Hailey Dirrigl spikes the volleyball during Arkansas’ 3-2 loss against No. 3 Florida on Sept. 24.


A freshman Razorback volleyball player has experienced the highs and lows that are associated with the collegiate recruitment process – both the thrill of commitment and the uncertainty of decommitting.

Outside hitter Hailey Dirrigl, who is second on the team in kills and kills per set, worked through committing, decommitting and following a coach to Arkansas to join the ranks of the Razorbacks.

“When I was a freshman in high school, I was starting to be recruited by a bunch of colleges, and that was very humbling,” Dirrigl said. ”Sophomore year, I get some offers from top schools, and I end up committing to Arizona State University, and that was when Jason was there, Jason Watson.”

But in January 2016, Watson left the Sun Devils and took the head coaching job at Arkansas. After being committed to ASU for eight months, Dirrigl decided to make a switch.

“Then another coach came to Arizona State, and I tried to stay with (them), but it just wasn’t working out anymore – to the point where I decided to decommit and reopen my recruiting process.”

Around March of her junior year, Watson reached out to Dirrigl and said that he had a scholarship open. He offered her a visit to the Fayetteville campus.

“I hesitated, at first, because I didn’t know a whole lot about Arkansas,” Dirrigl said. “I didn’t know about the academic part of it because academics was a huge part of my recruiting process, and I was like, ‘Okay, maybe I’ll come out and take a visit and see how it is.’ That was April of my junior year. I came out and ended up falling in love with the entire atmosphere on the campus and the nano institute that’s here.”

Dirrigl ended up committing to Arkansas that May. Academics ended up being a turning point in her recruiting process. Dirrigl’s major is biomedical engineering. She is interested in nanotechnology and its effects on the medical world.

Watson played a large part in getting Dirrigl to Arkansas. The two kept in contact after he left Arizona State.

“She had verbally committed to us at Arizona State,” Watson said. “Then I made the move to Arkansas, and so I think with that, she wanted to see what direction Arizona State was going to go with their coaching search and their coaching staff. And because of that little window, we were able to keep in touch and have her come visit Fayetteville. We’re pretty fortunate that she did.”

Dirrigl is excited to become a Razorback, and they are fortunate that the school has a major that she was so interested in, Watson said.

Dirrigl’s teammates said she is playing very well, especially for a freshman.

“Hailey has been playing tremendously,” redshirt junior middle blocker Krista Kolbinskie said. “As a freshman coming into college in a completely different state, there are many challenges but Hailey always gives her best effort on the court and in the classroom. She is always prepared to take on any role that the team and coaches need from her with full confidence.”

The Razorbacks are 13-6 on the season with the help of Dirrigl – already a marked improvement over their record last year.

She will play her next game Friday against Texas A&M in College Station, Texas.

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