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Durango High School’s Millie O’Ketter signs National Letter of Intent with Northern Arizona

DHS senior looking forward to Flagstaff

Durango High School’s Millie O’Ketter has wanted to play at the highest level of collegiate volleyball for at least the last three seasons. On Wednesday, she made her dream a reality when she signed her National Letter of Intent to play for Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff, Arizona next fall.

While she knows that earning a spot on the floor will take time and effort, she is excited to be part of an up-and-coming program. The Lumberjacks are the reigning Big Sky Conference champions, and reached the first round of the NCAA Tournament last season. They are currently 16-10 on the year, and are hopeful to make a return trip back to the postseason.

“It feels crazy,” O’Ketter said. “It especially hits me when I watch them on TV, knowing that I’m going to be apart of that program, whether I am playing or celebrating on the bench. Wherever I fit into that program, I am so excited.”

O’Ketter was the Demons’ star outside hitter this season, as she led the team in five different categories, and helped DHS reach the Class 4A Region 12 championship match. She had a career-best 219 kills, and led the team in digs per set (4.0), kills per set (3.4), serve-receive efficiency (95.6%) and a 2.35 serve-receive rating. She was ranked 12th in Class 4A in kills per set, and was sixth in 4A in digs per set. Within 5A/4A Southwestern League play, she was second in digs and kills per set, and was fifth in service aces per set.

Durango High School head coach Colleen Vogt said that once O’Ketter knew she wanted to play at the Division I level her sophomore year, O’Ketter stepped up her game, and her leadership grew as a result.

Millie O’Ketter of Durango High School said she knew that she wanted to attend Northern Arizona University after her official visit in spring.

“I feel like I’ve known Millie since she was a little tiny one in the gym,” Vogt said. “We always knew that she could play, even back when she was in fifth grade. When I got to start coaching her on varsity, it was her goal to play Division I volleyball. The fact that we are here three years later and has achieved that through all of her hard work, ambition, dedication and love for the sport is really exciting.”

The senior knew that the Lumberjacks’ had made her a high priority, and after her official visit last spring, she knew that she wanted to play for NAU.

“The coaches pursued a really transparent conversation every time, so they weren’t hiding anything,” O’Ketter said. “They were very upfront, and asked what I needed before they gave me an offer. They were very considerate of where my family was, and where our needs fit into everything. They’ve been in touch ever since, and I can’t wait for that relationship to get even better when I arrive on campus.”

Her decision came down to Sacramento State and NAU, but said that she felt right at home when she stepped foot on campus, and added that it was closer to home so that her family would be able to watch her play.

“A big part of when I knew I was going to make my decision was if I was going to fit in on the volleyball team and also on campus,” O’Ketter said. “I know that I’m going to spend the next four years there, so if something was a little off, it wouldn’t work. I loved how similar Flagstaff is to Durango, and how the volleyball team is supportive. The girls on the bench are super supportive as well, and they’re just as happy as the six girls that are on the floor.”

Millie O’Ketter of Durango High School led the Demons in five categories this season, including kills, which she finished with 219.

While Durango High School played a big role in helping, so did Four Corners Volleyball Club. She said that FCVBC director Terene Foutz was instrumental in the process.

“I didn’t know where or how to start, and Terene helped us through everything,” O’Ketter said. “She helped me develop my recruiting profile, how to talk on the phone with coaches, and was biggest help in this whole process. She’s a relentless force, and has helped every girl get where they want to be.”

O’Ketter, who is undecided on her major, said she is looking forward to finding her new community on campus.

“I’m excited to have a group of girls that’s driven and athletic,” O’Ketter said. “I’ll have a group of people and a support system, even when I don’t really know anyone on campus. I can’t wait to experience a whole new chapter with my best friends.”

bploen@ durangoherald.com

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