Gillian Grimes, a 5-foot-6 libero/defensive specialist from Westchester, Illinois, flipped her commitment to Penn State women’s volleyball Thursday after previously being committed to Michigan State.
“I am very excited to announce that I will be continuing my academic and athletic career at Penn State University,” Grimes wrote on Instagram. “This has been a dream of mine since I started playing volleyball, and I am very grateful to be able to play in Rec Hall for the next four years. Huge thanks to my family, friends, coaches, teammates, and the Penn State staff.”
Second 2022 Commit from Adversity and Nazareth
Grimes played her club volleyball for Adversity and helped Nazareth Academy win the 2021 IHSA 3A state championship as a senior last fall, starring alongside fellow incoming Penn State freshman Katie Hurta, who flipped her commitment from Indiana to the Nittany Lions on February 26. Grimes had a career-high 35 digs in the state title match, a 2-1 win (25-18, 20-25, 25-21) over Belvidere North.
Grimes was originally part of a four-player 2022 recruiting class for the Spartans, but she decided to explore her options again after head coach Cathy George announced her retirement on January 14. Leah Johnson was named Michigan State’s new head coach on February 7 after spending the last five seasons at Illinois State.
Grimes is the fourth member of Penn State’s 2022 recruiting class, joining Hurta, a 6-foot-1 setter/hitter from Palos Hills, Illinois, Alexa Markley, a 6-foot-2 outside/right-side hitter from Peachtree City, Georgia, and Mandi Morioka, a 5-foot-7 libero/defensive specialist from Torrance, California. They will arrive on campus this summer after wrapping up their club volleyball careers and graduating from high school.
Grimes’ older sister, Maeve, was an All-American setter at Ferris State. Gillian plans to study criminal justice at Penn State and would like to be a forensic psychologist when her volleyball career is over.
Upcoming Battle for the Backrow Positions
With Jenna Hampton, a two-year starter at libero for Penn State, having moved on to play her final season of college volleyball at South Carolina, Katie Schumacher-Cawley and her staff will have an interesting competition on their hands to fill that position. But they’ll have plenty of candidates, as Grimes will join Morioka, Maddy Bilinovic, Cassie Kuerschen, Quinn Menger, and Lexi Skripek in Penn State’s defensive specialist group.
Cathy George and Kyle Masterson Comments on Gillian Grimes
George, who spent the last 17 seasons in East Lansing and recently finished a 35-year coaching career, lauded Grimes for her competitive nature and leadership while introducing Michigan State’s incoming freshman class last November. “An extreme competitor at her core, Gillian’s natural talent and leadership will be evident on the first day she is on campus.”
Grimes’ club coach at Adversity, Kyle Masterson, spoke glowingly of her performance in a March 2021 tournament covered by VolleyballMag.com, saying, “I have yet to see any libero in the country [who] compares to her. At this rate, she is going to have ‘USA’ on the front of one of her future jerseys.”
Grimes, who was named a third-team AVCA high school All-American as a senior last fall, will be an exciting player to keep an eye on as preseason training camp rolls around. She’s the fifth player to announce her commitment to the Nittany Lions since Schumacher-Cawley was hired on January 10, following Hurta and three transfer portal additions in Kashauna Williams, Taylor Trammell, and Zoe Weatherington.
Clearly, Schumacher-Cawley knows the importance of recruiting top prospects, including those from her hometown, the talent-rich Chicago area, and the state of Illinois in general. The recent additions of Grimes and Hurta will only help the Nittany Lions when speaking with other top recruits in the months ahead.