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Volleyball

Loberg ends it early, chooses Wisconsin

Grace Loberg's extremely bright future is coming into focus.

Loberg, one of the state's elite underclassmen, still has three years of high school ahead of her but already has her college volleyball plans in place after committing Tuesday to Wisconsin.

A summer full of visits kept Loberg bustling but her heart was virtually set on Madison after attending a camp at Wisconsin last month.

"I've known it for a little while but it just took me a while to complete the decision," Loberg said.

Loberg, a 6-foot-2 outside hitter, rapidly became a coveted prospect through her club play with Fusion South and a dynamite freshman season at Geneva, where she helped power the Vikings to their first sectional championship in program history.

Loberg scoped out Purdue, Michigan State, Illinois, Florida and Missouri. Her Michigan State visit was alongside the Wicinski clan; former Geneva standout Lauren Wicinski starred for the Spartans' volleyball program while Geneva senior Kelsey Wicinski is one of Loberg's teammates with the Vikings.

Loberg phoned Wisconsin head coach Kelly Sheffield to notify him of her commitment Tuesday but only after making a few calls she was dreading.

"It had been kind of a hard day because it was hard to talk to the [other coaches], which wasn't very easy or fun, but when I got to call [Sheffield], I was super excited because she was super happy and supportive," Loberg said.

Sheffield led Wisconsin to the NCAA Division I national championship game in his first season on the job last year. The Badgers fell to Big Ten rival Penn State in the title match.

Loberg was the Kane County Chronicle-St. Charles Bank & Trust Female Athlete of the Year for the 2013-14 school year after being selected to the Chronicle's First Team All-Area teams in both volleyball and basketball. In volleyball, she notched 312 kills and 179 digs.

In addition to her rapport with Wisconsin's coaching staff, Loberg said the program's volleyball facilities and fan support helped set the Badgers apart. While her college choice comes early in her high school years, Loberg said she did not want other coaches to continue devoting time to recruiting her given her strong feelings for Wisconsin, which were shared by her family.

Loberg also singled out Fusion recruiting coordinator Jim Mohr for helping her sift through the intense process.

Another highly regarded Upstate Eight Conference product, West Aurora's Lauren Carlini, is a sophomore in the Badgers' program.

Loberg's sophomore season at Geneva is set to begin Tuesday as the Vikings visit Rosary.

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