It didn't take long for Doherty (Colorado Springs, Colo.)
coach Stephanie Leasure to come to the conclusion that Taylor Simpson
would become an outstanding volleyball player.
"The first time I saw Taylor walk into the gym, I knew she would be a great volleyball player," said Leasure. "Seeing her vast improvement between her freshman and sophomore year confirmed my initial impression. There is no doubt that Taylor is an outstanding athlete."
At 6-3, Simpson is an imposing force on the opposite side of the net. One of the state leaders in kills in Colorado, Simpson was selected to play on the Youth Olympic Team this summer in Singapore.
Although the United States lost to Belgium in the gold-medal match, Simpson came up big for her team. She scored 18 points with 11 kills, six blocks and an ace.
While Simpson has certainly reached the heights of success as a player, Leasure notes that her star player keeps a level head about her.
"Even though she has accomplished so much in the sport, she does not let it get to her head," said Leasure. "She is a team player and wants what is best for her team. She is a hard worker and takes advice from her coaches. She is a driven athlete that has high expectations for herself."
Simpson was the Class 5A state player of the year last season in Colorado, helping lead Doherty to a third-place finish. The Spartans defeated favored Pine Creek (Colorado Springs, Colo.) in the process before eventually losing to Highlands Ranch (Colo.) in the semifinals.
Simpson led the team in kills with 446 and earned a spot on the MaxPreps All-American Team. She also had 46 blocks and 289 digs on the season. This year, Doherty is off to an 8-5 start and Simpson has a team-best 135 kills.
"I think I enjoy blocking the best," said Simpson. "I love to get up in people's faces and show them who's boss."
Simpson carried over the same mentality to the basketball court, blocking an average of 4.6 shots per game to finish with the second highest average in the nation.
Simpson's skills come from parents who excelled in sports themselves. Mother Serena Simpson played volleyball and basketball in college and father Rick Simpson played basketball at Louisiana Tech and professionally in Australia for the Brisbane Bullets. Taylor also has two sisters on the varsity volleyball team with her in Cierra and Gabby.
"Playing every day with my sisters helps me to become a better player," said Simpson. "My mom taught me how to play volleyball in sixth grade and both my mom and dad got me involved in club. They have supported me all the way through."
Leasure points out that Simpson's commitment to getting better every day has helped her become a Division I prospect.
"Taylor comes into practice every day ready to work hard," she said. "She does not complain or question what the coaches are doing. Taylor strives to be a better leader for her teammates all the time."
Simpson added that practicing has also helped her gain confidence in her own abilities.
"You must have confidence in the way you play and it will not only help your self esteem, but it will also improve your game."
Highly recruited since her freshman season, Simpson has committed to play at the University of Nebraska next season and she expects to sign in November.
"The recruiting process was very stressful," said Simpson. "But I knew Nebraska was the right place for me very early. It will be such an experience and I am so excited to get there."