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Spartan setter Hook makes things official with Panthers

November 16, 2012
By ROSS THEDE - T-R Sports Editor ( , Times-Republican

When Heather Hook visited Northern Iowa, she was, well, hooked.

The Grundy Center High School volleyball standout told UNI head coach Bobbi Petersen a day after being offered a scholarship that she was going to be a Panther - about two years down the road.

Hook's first visit to Northern Iowa came the summer before her junior school year, in June of 2011, and on Wednesday she made it official with the signing of her National Letter of Intent. In 2013, Hook will finally satisfy that long-awaited moment of putting on the purple and gold.

Article Photos

Grundy Center senior Heather Hook, front center, committed to the Northern Iowa volleyball program during the summer heading into her junior season but made things official with the Panthers on Wednesday, signing her National Letter of Intent to play collegiately in Cedar Falls. She was joined on signing day by Grundy Center coach Darwin Sents, back, and parents Alan, front left, and Teri Hook.

"It's awesome, I've been waiting for it for quite a while," Hook said of her signing day. "I went on my one visit and Bobbi offered me and I thought about it for about a day. I kind of had my options open and I just jumped at the chance.

"I loved it, the coaches, the girls, the campus were all awesome."

Hook, a 6-foot setter for the Spartans' three-time state qualifier, accumulated 3,093 assists during her four-year prep career. She was the team's full-time setter each of the last three seasons, when Grundy Center put together those consecutive trips to state and a combined 115-15 record.

In four years, about the only thing Hook didn't come away with was that elusive state title. The Spartans fell to Western Christian in back-to-back Class 2A state semifinals and then saw this year's 1A title hopes dashed in a four-set loss to Tripoli.

"That was my goal, to go out of high school with a state championship under my belt, but it didn't work out that way," she said.

Hook was the one without tears in her eyes immediately after Grundy Center's loss in last weekend's state title match, but only because she didn't want her opponents to know she had it in her.

"I think while the game's going on I was extremely calm and focused and knew what we had to do, we had to battle and I was proud of my team for making it that far," Hook said. "We fought hard. I tried to be strong for my teammates and stay composed.

"I definitely broke down afterward."

Grundy Center won four NICL West Division titles during Hook's time on the court, each in undefeated fashion. She was a three-time first-team all-NICL West selection and a second-team pick as a freshman, and on Saturday she was named to the Class 1A state all-tournament team.

Hook has played four different sports at Grundy Center. She is a starter on the basketball team and has played both golf and ran track in past spring seasons.

On the volleyball court, Hook is a long, athletic setter with good leaping ability, soft hands and spot-on decision-making skills. She totaled 252 blocks as a prep, too, making her anything but a weak spot at the net from a defensive standpoint.

"Heather is a multiple-sport athlete that will bring size and athleticism to our setter position," UNI's Coach Petersen said in a release. "We like to keep our offense fast and with Heather's high contact point she will fit into our system well.

"She also has the ability to put up a good size block, which will be an asset to our defense. Heather leads her team well on the court and has developed a lot in terms of the mental side of running an offense. She also has the potential to be a very offensive-type setter."

One of Hook's favorite hitters to set - Sam Meyers - will soon be on the other side of the net as a member of the Drake volleyball squad.

Meyers made her commitment to help the Bulldogs rebuild after years of playing alongside Hook in AAU, club and high school volleyball.

"It's definitely going to be weird, I've played volleyball with her forever," Hook said of Meyers. "It will definitely be a friendly competition, but playing against each other is going to be weird."

Hook future squad at UNI has qualified for six straight NCAA tournaments, and this year's Panther contingent is 23-8 overall with a 14-3 Missouri Valley record - good for second behind No. 23-ranked Creighton.

Northern Iowa's current setter, Molly Turk, will be a senior next fall.

"It's definitely going to be different, college volleyball is a lot faster-paced game," Hook said. "It will take a while to get used to that.

"Right now I'm not expecting to go in and play at all (as a freshman). I expect to take a year and watch Molly. She's a great player so I can learn from her and see how I can improve, getting better at defense, my footwork in getting to the ball quicker, and my hand positioning so I can hide where I'm going to set the ball."

The legacy Hook helped to leave behind with Grundy Center volleyball is an easy one to identify.

The Spartans have won 26 straight matches - and 67 consecutive sets - in NICL West Division play.



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