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062615-spt-nanninga signing

Durant’s Sarah Nanninga signed to continue her volleyball career at Clarke University on Thursday at the Durant Middle School library. She was joined by family and coaches, pictured first row, from left: Doris Nanninga, mother; Sarah Nanninga; Tim Redington, step father; and Renee Meyer, Durant volleyball coach. Pictured second row: Laurie Schroeder, Clarke assistant volleyball coach; Chris Miron, Clarke head volleyball coach; Ann Ralfs, Durant assistant volleyball coach; and Alan Hartley, Durant activities director.

DURANT, Iowa — Sarah Nanninga was already making other plans.

The 2015 Durant High School graduate hoped to play volleyball in college, but was thinking about just continuing her education at Muscatine Community College.

"I just looked at Muscatine because I wasn't expecting to go to college to play volleyball," Nanninga said.

Her plans changed when the Clarke University volleyball coaches contacted her in March.

Nanninga signed to play volleyball at the NAIA school in Dubuque, Iowa on Tuesday at the Durant Middle School library, an opportunity she didn't think was going to happen.

"Definitely hoping for, maybe not expecting," she said.

Chris Miron, Clarke's 11th-year volleyball coach, was looking for a middle hitter like Nanninga in the spring when Durant volleyball head coach Renee Meyer and assistant coach Ann Ralfs sent him footage of the 5-foot-9 Wildcat in action.

Despite missing nearly a month after an appendectomy during her senior season, Nanninga still led the Wildcats, who finished 28-7, with 43 blocks and was fourth on the team with 114 kills in just 55 sets.

"We have a team that has really strong team chemistry and when I met her for the first time — it's interesting because when someone walks on campus you know when there's a Clarke kid," Miron said. "She was a Clarke kid. The first five, 10 minutes that I met her, I'm like, 'She's going to be a great kid for us.'"

The school was exactly what Nanninga was looking for.

"I liked pretty much everything," Nanninga said. "I like how the staff is really connected and involved with all the students. It's a very small campus, everyone's very friendly."

In addition to getting along with Miron, she was also drawn in by the Crusaders program, which finished 22-15 with a 3-3 mark in the Midwest Collegiate Conference.

"I looked at their playing footage and I like how the team plays," Nanninga said. "It looks very coordinated."

Miron believes Nanninga will bring a lot of potential to the Crusaders when she gets to campus in the fall.

"We're going to see what's going to be the best fit for the team and for her and go from there," Miron said. "She's got a quick arm swing, which we like … very much. I know she's got a great vertical. She could be very surprising in the middle because she isn't necessarily 6'2, and we've seen some surprising middles before. That could very well be the direction that she's heading. She's a good weapon for us."

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Sports Editor