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Ruby Kayser was a First Team All-Three Rivers League setter for the Cougars the past two high school seasons

PMG PHOTO: DEREK WILEY - Ruby Kayser, an upcoming senior at Canby High School, has decided to continue her volleyball career at Colorado State University in Fort Collins.

Ruby Kayser saw Colorado State University's passion for volleyball as soon as she stepped on campus.

"Their community really takes pride in volleyball," said Kayser, a rising senior at Canby High School, who visited the Fort Collins campus in June. "It was overwhelming when I went there. We would go out and everyone knows about the volleyball team because they've been very successful. I felt very welcomed and saw it (volleyball) was a high priority. That was cool because you don't see that a lot for volleyball."

After the visit, Kayser committed to Colorado State, which last fall won its 15th Mountain West Conference championship and qualified for its 24th straight NCAA tournament.

"It's a special thing to be a part of," Kayser said. "There's a lot of tradition. The volleyball culture was the thing that I wanted so much out of a school and it ended up being perfect."

Kayser, who began playing volleyball in the fourth grade, says she started getting attention from colleges two years ago.

"It's really fun at the beginning because I was a freshman and I didn't have to decide soon," Kayser said. "Sophomore year was fun, too, because they (college coaches) come out and watch and it's not too serious because you can't start taking visits until your junior year. This year is when it set in and it was really, really stressful."

Wanting to commit before her senior season, Kayser, previously a two-sport athlete, decided to take a break from Canby's softball team last spring to focus on recruiting.

"I worked really hard to try to commit this summer and to find a school that I loved," Kayser said. "But if it didn't happen, I wasn't going to be heartbroken because I knew it would work out eventually. I wanted to find a place that I loved and I fit in really well. The fact that it happened when it did was really nice because it's a weight off my chest."

As the libero on Oregon Juniors Volleyball Academy's top team this year, Kayser got a chance to see what playing major college volleyball would be like.

Kayser was the only high school junior on the OJVA 18 gold team, which was otherwise all seniors including Jesuit's Rose Booth, the Oregon Gatorade Volleyball Player of the Year and Oregon Sports Award Volleyball Player of the Year, and Valley Catholic's Kayla Robbins, the Class 4A Player of the Year.

"She (Kayser) was clearly the best libero that we had," said OJVA club director Steve Suttich. "She's definitely an impact player. That's why it was such an easy move to bump her up."

Kayser was part of a historic squad as OJVA qualified for the 18 open division at the USA Volleyball Girls Junior National Championships for the first time.

"It is by far the best team that we've ever had," Suttich said.

Competing as one of the best 48 teams in the nation, OJVA placed 37th on April 25-28 in Dallas, Texas.

"Playing in the open division was insane," Kayser said. "I've never played at such a high volleyball level before in my life. It's girls that are committed to Stanford and Penn State and some of the top schools in the country, and they're insane, they're so good, and we hung in there with them and we were competing the whole time and it was definitely something that I'll never forget."

PMG PHOTO: FILE PHOTO - Ruby Kayser serves the volleyball during her junior season at Canby High School.

Kayser's play at nationals is what caught the attention of Colorado State.

"She's got great volleyball IQ," Suttich said. "She's always on the court, has great ball control skills. Any ball that comes to her, anywhere in her area, she's all over it. We want her to be a ball hog because she's got better ball control than everyone else."

Kayser, a First Team All-Three Rivers League setter for Canby the past two high school seasons, can sign a national letter of intent with Colorado State as early as Nov. 13.

"As a little kid I always dreamed of playing a sport in college," Kayser said. "I'm super competitive so I'm always reaching for the next step."

Derek Wiley
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