Niles North’s Louis puts everything into volleyball
Niles North's Taylor Louis moves past Niles West defenders | Stacia Timonere~for Sun-Times Media
Updated: August 6, 2012 6:44AM
SKOKIE — Niles North junior Taylor Louis barely saw the court as a member of Wildcat Juniors’ 15 Black team.
By her own admission, Louis’ skill set had some holes last year. She lacked the all-around ability — especially defense, blocking and kill accuracy — required to regularly stay in the rotation and play well against some of the Midwest’s best club volleyball teams.
One year later and with Wildcat Juniors 16 Black’s season wrapped up, Louis is a new, much-improved player. Each facet of her game has progressed, but especially her defense, which earned her significantly more playing time in her second year with the club.
Louis responded to the increased opportunities by proving herself as a truly potent outside hitter, one who is drawing interest from many of the nation’s largest universities.
“I barely got playing time last year,” Louis said. “I’m proud of myself, I have to say, because I’ve improved a lot. ... The coaching staff (at Wildcat Juniors) is great. They really teach you the techniques. I couldn’t really pass at all when I first got to Wildcat Juniors, and now I’m able to pass the ball. Their coaching technique is just amazing. For me to be passing in just a little under a year is just great.”
The improvement the Skokie teen showed as a member of 16 Black, whose season concluded with 29th place at the AAU National Championships on June 27, began during her high school season.
Louis averaged 8.5 kills for Niles North and earned all-CSL North honors. Soon after the 6-foot-2 outside hitter saw her prep season end with a loss to New Trier, she began a tricky juggling act of balancing her schoolwork with high school basketball and club volleyball.
While Louis showed promise as a sophomore on the Vikings’ varsity basketball team, her performance during this club volleyball season — and the subsequent recruiting interest — drove her to make a difficult decision.
“I need to focus on volleyball,” said Louis, who decided at the beginning of the summer to give up basketball. “It was very difficult because of the atmosphere with the teammates and everything. It’s just hard leaving the team. I don’t like to quit anything, either.”
Although she’s focusing on volleyball, Louis figures to see her time continue to stretch this fall because Sept. 1 is the first day college coaches can directly contact junior volleyball players.
Two of Louis’ Wildcat Juniors 16 Black teammates — New Trier juniors Taylor Tashima (Northwestern) and Haley Fauntleroy (Virginia) — have already committed to high-end Division I programs. Louis’ recruiting process started later than both those players, due to her limited playing time in her first season of club, but the Niles North outside hitter has drawn significant recruiting interest this year.
Louis visited the University of Florida before the beginning of AAU National Championships in Orlando, and she plans on returning to Gainesville to attend the Gators’ volleyball camp later this summer.
Louis is attracting interest from many schools — including Texas, Michigan and USC — and she’s working with her mom and the coaches at Wildcat Juniors to sort out the recruiting onslaught.
“I just told my mom not to tell me who I’m getting letters and brochures from because I really need to focus on my school,” Louis said. “I believe we’ll get through it. I don’t think it’s that hard. If you know the right people, it’s not that hard to choose a school.”