Ava Francis, right, of Jonathan Alder, follows through on a hit during the Division II State semifinals. (Journal-Tribune photo by Sam Dillon)
COVID-19 issues prevented Jonathan Alder High School senior Ava Francis from making a big celebration of her college signing.
Her signature, however, is in place as Francis has officially signed with the University of Arizona’s women’s volleyball team.
Francis had verbally committed to the Pac-12 school a couple of years ago as a sophomore.
Francis said Arizona coaches had taken notice of her for her exploits on the volleyball court during the club season.
Francis had earlier told the Journal-Tribune she liked the Arizona coaches and team atmosphere out west.
Francis helped lead the Lady Pioneers to four consecutive Central Buckeye Conference Kenton Trail Division championships.
Jonathan Alder won back-to-back Division II district titles and earned a berth in the state Final Four last weekend.
Francis has put her name in the Jonathan Alder High School volleyball record books with numbers that may be very difficult to surpass.
She finished her four-year career with 1,289 kills, 790 digs and 141 ace serves.
“I haven’t been able to find a super complete record for JA volleyball historical stats,” said head coach Joe Ross. “What I have goes back to 2014.
“However, from everything I can find, Ava is graduating as the school’s career leader in kills.”
Francis is second in team history for digs behind Alexa Hasting.
Hasting was a standout player on the Lady Pioneer squad that finished as the Division II state runner-up squad in 2015.
Hasting is currently a senior and the starting libero for the West Virginia University women’s volleyball squad.
Francis also ranks second to fellow senior Emma Shepherd in career ace serves.
Ross could not say enough accolades about what Francis has meant to the Alder volleyball program.
“Ava has become a true six-rotation outside hitter,” said the Alder coach. “Offensively she is dynamic, but the truest testament to her work ethic is the way she improved her passing and defense.
“To be the player that she was in both the front and back row for us was huge,” he said.
Ross said Francis will face new challenges as she enters the world of NCAA Division I volleyball.
“At the D-I level in college, every player is outstanding at something,” said the coach. “However, Ava’s all-around game is what I believe is going to allow her to compete at Arizona as soon as she gets on campus.
“It was a total blessing to coach Ava,” said Ross. “She is ready for the challenge and my biggest encouragement to her is to let her love of the game always lead the way.
“If she dives into just getting stronger and competing at the high level of practices she will be in, the journey ahead of her will be an absolute blast.”
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