Years of hard work on and off the volleyball court have paid dividends throughout Haley Phillips’ volleyball career.
And she received her biggest payoff on Tuesday.
The Goldsboro senior signed a national letter of intent to play volleyball at the University of Mount Olive.
Phillips, who plans to major in exercise science or biology, said she was drawn to Mount Olive because she developed a strong bond with UMO head volleyball coach Emma Celentano during her junior of high school.
“I am super excited and filled with joy right now. Mount Olive is the place I always dreamed of playing at. I’m very excited to be playing with my new team and new coach,” Phillips said. “It is sad also because I’m a senior and I have to leave my amazing team behind, but we fulfilled a lot of things this season.”
A four-year player on Goldsboro’s varsity team, Phillips enjoyed a stellar senior campaign that truly defined her potential.
She guided the Cougars to their first-ever East Central 2A Conference championship, an undefeated regular season, and an appearance in the N.C. High School Athletic Association 2A playoffs.
In 14 games this season, Phillips had 75 kills, 132 digs and a team-high 36 aces.
“All my life, I have struggled to find motivation, and volleyball did just that for me. All four years, we accomplished great things. I played through God, and God has given the strength through every single game,” Phillips said.
During her career, Phillips logged 508 kills, 557 digs and 175 aces. She won 57 games during her high school career, which makes her the winningest player in Goldsboro history.
The Cougars also reached the playoffs during Phillips’ sophomore and junior seasons.
She credited her coaches for molding her into the player and leader she has become today.
“Coach Lancaster has been around since my sixth-grade year. Coach Lancaster pushed me to find a motivation and a passion, and volleyball quickly became a passion for me,” Phillips said. “After eighth grade, I ate, slept, and breathed volleyball, and coach Lancaster has not only been a coach, but also a mentor for me.
“Coach Tart was a female influence for me and role model in my life who I looked up to. I’m very lucky to have coach Lancaster and coach Tart in my life.”
An energetic and joyous individual with a strong attack presence on the court, Phillips always dreamed of playing on the college level when she younger, and as soon as she stepped into the court at Goldsboro, her game and skills blossomed.
“I’ve known Haley and have been working with her since she was in the sixth grade, and she showed the fire and desire then, so I knew nothing could stop her. I’m proud of her accomplishing her goals,” Goldsboro head coach T.J. Lancaster said. “Every year, she got better and better.”
Phillips heads to Mount Olive with visions of improving her game even more and helping keep the Trojans have their first winning season since 2013.
She realizes the challenges that await her, but her work ethic and talent will continue to pay off, and Phillips will have no problems adjusting to the college level.
After college Phillips would like to become a pediatric physicians assistant.