Perhaps the Tampa Bay Times said it best.
Setter Rachel Reed provided the “go” for East Lake High School and outside hitter Brittnay Estes made her team “GO! GO! GO!”
They were named co-players of the year in Pinellas County after leading East Lake High School to consecutive state titles as juniors and seniors. And they both are wearing Lipscomb volleyball uniforms this summer. Their names are usually mentioned together, but they are two different people.
Reed, 5-foot-7, wasn’t certain about her volleyball future after high school. She considered attending a large university where she could be a regular student. She was also considering playing volleyball at a small school.
“I went back and forth for a while,” Reed said. “My older brother swam at Florida State for two years and got burned out on it. I just didn’t know for sure what I wanted to do and then one day it hit me that I wanted to go to the next level and that I was good enough to do it.”
No volleyball fans in Pinellas County were surprised that Reed chose to attend Lipscomb. As a senior she made 758 assists and posted 72 kills. Reed, who has also teamed with Ester in beach volleyball, thinks her transition to the college game will be helped by continuing to have Estes as a teammate.
“It is nice to come here with someone you are comfortable with,” Reed said.
Lipscomb volleyball coach Brandon Rosenthal made the trip to Tampa to watch Estes play in a high school game. Reed, who is a calming influence on the court, caught Rosenthal’s eye. The game was against Berkley Prep, another top team in Florida.
“I try to go down and see each of our girls play in a high school game,” Rosenthal said. “So I went down there to see Brittnay play.
“Throughout the match I was really impressed with Rachel. I asked what year she was. It was a curiosity thing. When we played at UNF in Jacksonville Brittnay drove up to watch the match and brought Rachel with her.”
“The thing I noticed about her was that she put up hittable balls. She made her offense look really solid. They were playing a really tough match and all along she kept giving the ball to the right hitters and in the right positions. It was the level of game control that she had.”
At the time Rosenthal wasn’t in the market for another setter, but circumstances changed.
“As the season went along we moved some people around and realized that we did need a setter,” Rosenthal said. “To make a long story short she was available. We wanted to make sure she wanted to play a high level. We talked a lot and she became a good fit for us.”
Reed was immediately hooked on her first trip to campus.
“I just fell in love with the program, the school and the town,” Reed said. “People have asked me my favorite part of the school. I just tell them that I love everything.”
“I love how close our team is. I love how strong the volleyball program is and how good our coaches are. I love how nice the people are. I love the smaller classes too.”
She completed two courses this summer and she quickly learned the difference between small and large universities.
“The professors said to call them if we had a question,” Reed said. “You can’t get that at a big university where there are hundreds of students in a class.”
Reed’s visit to campus was her first trip to Nashville. An avid country music fan, she was attracted by all of the different music venues.
“I’m excited to get to know the town,” Reed said. “I’ve listened to country music my whole life. I’m excited to be able to go to some concerts in my spare time.”
Caitlin Dotson returns as setter for the Lady Bisons after backing up Abby Fay last season. Reed, however, is expected to get an opportunity to log some playing time as a freshman.
“Rachel is not going to overwhelm you with dazzling sets, but she is a very consistent setter,” Rosenthal said. “As we teach the game more and more she is going to do a great job.”
Written by Mark McGee, Senior Publisher/Director of Media Relations.