FAYETTEVILLE -- Two of the most decorated players in Arkansas high school volleyball history signed national letters of intent to continue their playing careers on Wednesday.
Haley Warner and Ella May Powell, who led Fayetteville to three consecutive Class 7A state championships, signed with Florida and Washington, respectively, in Bulldog Arena Wednesday afternoon. In all, eight Fayetteville athletes signed, including five to Division I programs.
"They certainly have shattered our record books," Fayetteville volleyball coach Jessica Phelan said. "I'm just super proud as their coach of how they have represented us, and how how they'll continue to represent us at the next level at Washington and Florida. We're super proud to be able to continue to follow their volleyball careers."
The duo polished off their senior season with a four-set finals win against Springdale Har-Ber in October. Warner, a two-time state tournament Most Valuable Player, finished with 31 kills and six blocks in the finals while Powell contributed 12 kills, 31 assists and 17 digs. Warner exits the program as its all-time kills leader and Powell ranks first in career assists.
"I'm out of words with how excited I am," Powell said. "I'm stoked to go to a place where I am so comfortable and so encouraged. Whenever I went on my visit there I completely fell in love with it. The coaches and the girls there made me feel so welcomed and made me feel so wanted. I just know I'm going to be happiest there."
"Everything I've been working for is finally happening and it's all together," Warner added. "I think it's a really special day for everyone that signed. Passion is a really big thing for me and Ella, and I think by showing the underclassmen how we play and how to play college volleyball (was important)."
Jasmine Franklin, a key part in Fayetteville's seventh girls basketball state championship, signed with Missouri State on Wednesday. As a junior Franklin averaged 11 points, a team-high 9.7 rebounds and 1.5 blocks per game for the 30-2 Lady Purple'Dogs. Considered by many as arguably the 7A-West's biggest mismatch, she dominated around the rim in Fayetteville's run to Hot Springs.
In a 49-40 win against Little Rock Central in the state semifinals, Franklin scored 13 points on 5-of-7 shooting and grabbed 19 rebounds -- 11 offensive -- in just 20 minutes. She was named All-NWADG Newcomer of the Year as a sophomore and earned Player of the Year honors last season.
"It's really special. I'm ready to go up to the next step. It was just a really good fit," said Franklin, who chose Missouri State over offers from North Texas, Colorado and others. "I like the coaches, the teammates and just the facility in general. I can't wait (for senior season). It's going to be a good season, and I'm ready for it."
Miller Pleimann and Jacob Davenport led the Purple'Dogs baseball team to a conference title and state semifinals appearance this spring, and signed with Wichita State and Allen County Community College, respectively. As a junior Pleimann starred on the mound for Fayetteville, finishing with a 7-2 record and a 1.57 earned run average.
"I visited there back in January and really liked it, all the players, all the coaches," Pleimann said of Wichita State. "It was the right place for me. The guys (at Fayetteville) that are gone now two years ago, a year ago really helped me become the person I am today and grow as a person and get better."
Davenport led Fayetteville in appearances the last two seasons and said he felt the junior college route was in his best interest.
"Being able to go and play right at the beginning and get a lot of work in will be good," he said. "I think it's a good fit for me personally and goes with my personality."
Olivia Keith also signed with Nebraska for swimming and diving. Fayetteville, which finished third in the girls meet at the 2017 7A-6A State Swimming and Diving Championships, was led by Keith's second-place and three third-place finishes.
"It's one of the biggest dreams ever," said Keith, who chose Nebraska over Kansas. "It came down between them, and I fell in love with the team and the girls I got to meet. The coaches were the best."
Jackson Cole, a three-time all-state and all-conference golfer, signed on with Henderson State University in Arkadelphia. Cole was played a key role in four of Fayetteville's five consecutive state championships.
"I'm really excited to go down there and see what I can do," he said. "I really like the coach there. He's a great guy. The teammates are great and the facilities are great. I love it down there."
Fayetteville wrestler Cody Williamson signed with Ouachita Baptist University in Arkadelphia as well. Williamson added that he'll carry relationships he's made in high school with him to college.
"It's a great feeling. It's unlike anything else," he said of signing. "I love everybody so much, and all you want to do is say thank you. Henderson just hired a new coach, and I love him, and they have one of the nicest facilities."
Sports on 11/09/2017
Print Headline: Warner, Powell among eight Fayetteville signees