BOWLING GREEN, Ky. – Four high school standouts have signed National Letters of Intent to join WKU Volleyball starting in 2017 head coach Travis Hudson announced Wednesday. Hudson brought in a well-rounded class that includes Taylor Bebout and Kayland Jackson from Indiana as well as Darby Music and Hallie Shelton from nearby Lexington.
“This is an exciting group,” Hudson said of the four signees. “Depth was a bit of an issue for this year’s team and certainly we will have more depth numbers wise next year, graduating two and bringing in four. We’ll also have a tremendous amount of versatility, there are a lot of kids in that incoming class that can play different positions and certainly that will give us great flexibility.”
Taylor Bebout // Decatur, Ind. // Bellmont H.S. // Setter
Taylor Bebout joins the WKU volleyball program from Decatur, Indiana, where she attended Bellmont High School. The setter was a two-time captain of her high school squad that most recently claimed the conference and sectional championships in 2016. During her senior campaign, Bebout was named first-team all-conference and received academic all-state honorable mention for her work in the classroom. Overall, Bebout was a three-time all-conference and two-time all-state honoree individually, while her team picked up three conference championships, four sectional titles, two regional championships and advanced to the Semi-State Final Four during Bebout’s sophomore season.
Bebout was a two-time AAU All-American with the Munciana Volleyball Club that most recently finished fifth at AAU Nationals. The club program was also the national runner up among AAU teams in 2014.
Why she chose WKU – “WKU has the perfectly sized campus, the distance from home was perfect, everyone makes it feel like home and the coaches are amazing!”
Hudson on Bebout – “The first word that comes to mind with Taylor Bebout is winner,” stated Hudson. “At the setter position I don’t know if you can have a better characteristic. She’s played in a lot of high-level matches throughout her life and she’s just tremendously dedicated to this game and she is a gym rat that works really hard. She’s a winner and those are all qualities that any coach would want to have in their next setter.”
Kayland (KJ) Jackson // Indianapolis, Ind. // Warren Central H.S. // MH/RS
Kayland (KJ) Jackson hails from Indianapolis, Indiana, where she attended Warren Central High School. Jackson plays primarily as a middle and right-side hitter but could also see time as an outside hitter once on The Hill. While in high school, Jackson earned varsity letters all four years in both volleyball and track. Jackson was named the Metropolitan Interscholastic Conference (MIC) volleyball Senior of the Year and was also a Marion County Athlete of the Year nominee in addition to being named all-county.
Jackson earned all-conference and all-state honors her junior year following a stellar track season that saw her win the IHSAA Girls State Championship in the 100-meter hurdles. A year prior, Jackson took home runner-up honors in the same event at the state meet.
Why she chose WKU – “WKU is where my heart was. I knew coming here I would be pushed to produce the best version of myself in all aspects. It’s an environment where everyone cares and that’s hard to find.”
Hudson on Jackson – “I think KJ has the ability to come here and turn into one of the really great ones,” shared Hudson. “Athletically, she’s eye popping. She’s versatile, she can play a lot of different positions, she’s really explosive and I’m really looking forward to getting in the gym with her. I think she has a huge ceiling, and she has the character as a young person that you’re looking for in terms of a kid like that. In terms of bringing her in, I know she’ll work really hard to get to that ceiling.”
Darby Music // Lexington, Ky. // Henry Clay H.S. // DS
Darby Music is the first of two signees from Lexington, Kentucky, that attends Henry Clay High School. Music, a defensive specialist, was a four-year letterwinner in high school and was tabbed an Under Amour Honorable Mention High School All-American. In her final three high school seasons, Music was selected to the All-City First Team each year. Henry Clay High School also claimed a regional championship three times during Music’s time there. Most recently, Music earned a spot on the KHSAA All-Tournament Team in 2016 following Henry Clay High School’s runner-up finish at the state tournament; she was also named a first-team all-state honoree.
Music helped Lexington Club United to an AAU 15 Open third place finish as well as a third place finish at the AAU Nationals 13 Open. Music’s list of accolades also includes being honored as the Regional Tournament MVP in 2015 and an All-State honorable mention (2015).
Why she chose WKU – “I chose WKU because it’s one of the top volleyball programs, somewhere that I could become a better volleyball player and further my education. They have a good speech therapy program. The campus is close to my family so they can still visit me. It was important to be a part of a team that had a family atmosphere.”
Hudson on Music – “Darby is going to be the kid that may end up being the most impactful of them all in her first year because of graduation,” Hudson said. “We graduate two ball control players and she is just rock solid. She’s just a great ball control player, great in serve receive. Darby holds a very calm collected demeanor on the court. We think she’ll get thrown into the mix very quickly and I think she has the temperament to do that at a high level.”
Hallie Shelton // Lexington, Ky. // Henry Clay H.S. // OH
Hallie Shelton is the second signee staying in-state at WKU in 2017, as the outside hitter also hails from Lexington, Kentucky, and attends Henry Clay High School. Shelton, tabbed a 2016 KVCA First-Team All-State honoree, helped Henry Clay High School to a runner-up finish at the 2016 KHSAA State Tournament and was named to the KHSAA All-Tournament Team. The KVCA Region 11 Player of the Year was also tabbed an AVCA Under Armour High School All-American. Shelton was honored for her work in the classroom with an AAU Academic All-American nod.
Why she chose WKU – “I’ve followed the WKU volleyball program since I was 13 years old. After my visit and meeting the coaches, I knew it was the place I needed to be. WKU has all the qualities I’m looking for in a school: quality academics, athletics and great campus atmosphere.”
Hudson on Shelton – “Hallie Shelton reminds me a lot of Rachel Engle who played for us, she is just a really complete volleyball player. Hallie Shelton can do everything; she can hit, block, pass and serve. She is a six rotation kid and she is the ultimate winner. The kind of kid you want in the gym because she can fill any role that you need. We think she is going to turn into a really good outside hitter in our program. She’s a kid that will plug all the holes from the time she’ll get here as a freshman because she has the ability to do so many things. Her volleyball IQ is really high, she’s truly played I think every position on the court other than setter at one point. She’s just a complete package as a volleyball player and will be a great addition.”
Shelton and Music will both head to The Hill in the fall of 2017 from just down the road in Lexington. The pair will join current Lady Toppers Mary Martin (Lexington) and Alyssa Cavanaugh (Louisville) who also hail from Kentucky. The pair of newcomers were teammates on both the Henry Clay High School team and the Lexington Club United squad prior to heading to campus. In their final seasons at Henry Clay High School, Shelton and Music helped the squad advance further into the state tournament than any public school had done before.
WKU Volleyball will play its final regular season match of the 2016 campaign on Thursday night when North Texas comes to town. The tilt is slated for a 7 p.m. CT first serve. Prior to the match, WKU will pay tribute to its pair of seniors in Georgia O’Connell and Kaelin Grimes. A win on Senior Night would give the WKU volleyball program the fourth undefeated conference record in history at 14-0.
The 2016 WKU Volleyball season is being presented by the United States Marines. This season, the Marines and WKU Athletics are working together to promote the outstanding athletic and academic achievements of our female student-athletes. The Marines are proud to work with and support these future leaders of America.