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Ferris signs with Oregon in volleyball

Ferris signs with Oregon in volleyball

North Medford High graduate Kristin Ferris has exchanged potential fun in the Arizona sun for a more pragmatic pilgrimage to the Willamette Valley.

Ferris earned second-team all-state volleyball honors last fall, helping the Black Tornado to a third-place finish in the Class 4A state tournament.

She planned to walk on at Arizona, where she had attended summer camp during her high school career. But all that changed rapidly in June when Oregon coach Cathy Nelson called.

The fifth-year coach had an open scholarship and the desire to sign a defensive specialist. Ferris' club team was preparing for the big UC-Davis volleyball festival and Nelson got to watch her work out.

She came down to watch me practice, says Ferris, and I guess she liked what she saw.

Nelson offered and Ferris accepted a Pac-10 scholarship.

It was a little awkward at first, admits Ferris, who had verbally committed to Arizona. I felt a little guilty leaving Dave (Rubio).

But since there was no letter of intent involved, Ferris wasn't bound to the Wildcats. NCAA rule, Ferris couldn't receive regular financial aid had Rubio made an offer to a walk on.

Instead of maybe making the Arizona team, she'll be competing for playing time when the Ducks begin workouts next week.

There were no guarantees, though all of us think Kristin would've made the (Arizona) team and helped them, North Medford coach Ron Beick says. Financially and all it works out for her. She'll be closer to home where we can watch her, and still be playing at the Pac-10 level, which is what her hope was.

Ferris has watched the Ducks play in the past and met several of her teammates, who were working at a summer camp in Eugene.

I know (Nelson) has confidence in me, which is really important, Ferris says. What it comes down to now is how hard I want to work and how much I learn.

Nelson is on the recruiting trail and was unavailable for comment.

Oregon opens its season with a swing through New England, starting with Boston College Sept. 1.

Of the 15 players on the roster, four are 5-foot-10 or shorter. Ferris is the most diminutive at 5-7.

The forward thinking now with a lot of top Division I coaches is having a strong defensive specialist come in, says Beick. I can't say who started the trend, but you could tell all of a sudden it was a trend within a year. Everyone is looking for a player to fit that role.

I think Kristin is Cathy's type of player, too -- tough, energetic and hard-working.