BONHAM — Senior Bri Williams’ play has garnered attention despite Bonham’s recent struggles in volleyball.
Her all-district awards have escalated during four years on varsity and that notice has now helped extend her volleyball career beyond high school.
Williams agreed Wednesday afternoon to play volleyball at Austin College in a ceremony held in the Leonard A. Gerner Gymnasium at Bonham High School with her parents, teammates, coaches and other well wishers on hand.
“It’s been a goal of mine to go to the next level,” Williams said. “I’ve put in the work in club volleyball and have stayed after school.”
Williams became the first Bonham volleyball player to extend her career into college since Madeline Dolberry signed with Dallas Baptist University following the 2014 season — when the Lady Warriors last made the playoffs.
“It’s good for Bonham; volleyball is not as big here now,” Williams said. “I’d like to see the young girls be more excited and see them sign.”
Michelle Rodriguez, who returned in 2017 as head volleyball coach after a three-year absence, noted Williams’ progression
“I coached her in junior high when I was (previously) head volleyball coach,” Rodriguez said. “She grew as a player fast. Her parents put her in select volleyball and that helped tremendously since she was playing year round.
“Bri had to step up and play a position this season she hadn’t played in three years,” she said. “She did awesome (as a middle hitter) and head coach Ed Garza of Austin College noticed.
“I wish I could have her for one more year.”
During their one year together, Williams shared the District 11-4A Offensive Player of the Year honor, despite Bonham’s 1-9 record in district. Williams made 137 of her 329 kills, 82 of 218 digs and 11 of 28 solo blocks during 11-4A play.
“The district saw that she could make things happen,” Rodriguez said. “That’s big when you are playing Celina and Melissa.”
The award followed being part of a bracket win at the Girls Junior National Championships last July at the Minneapolis Convention Center in Minnesota as a member of Summit-Nitro 17 North.
She has played for three years for Summit club teams and a year for Madfrog.
Williams also garnered an all-district honorable mention and first-team selection, respectively, as a sophomore and junior for Bonham under then-head coach Josh McKinney.
“I was privileged to coach Bri my three years at Bonham High School,” McKinney said. “I really got to see her grow and develop from her freshman season on the varsity to her junior year into an outstanding volleyball player and an even better person.
“On the court she has been a leader the last couple of years and someone her coaches and teammates could count on day in and day out,” he said. “Bri is going to do great things at Austin College.”