Posted On: 07/21/14 3:40 PM

Some people are big believers in love at first sight. You can count the volleyball coaching staff of Bradley University among those.

All it took was one passing glance at Grand Island outside hitter Sierra Peterson for the Bradley coaches to fall in love with the high-flying, powerful Peterson. Love is known to make you do crazy things, and in the case of Bradley, that involved completely scraping their recruiting plan to find a way to bring Peterson to the Missouri Valley Conference school.

Bradley coaches were simply walking past a court in Minneapolis at the USAV championships earlier this month when they saw Peterson – playing for Nebraska ONE 17 Lone Wolf – go up high and slam the ball down hard and immediately stopped in their tracks. Peterson wound up having an offer from Bradley before she left Minneapolis the next day.

That started a two-week whirlwind for Peterson, who went to a Bradley camp just a few days later, fell in love with the campus and gave her verbal commitment. Peterson also visited Western Illinois and was looking at Hastings College prior to committing to Bradley.

“I really, really liked the (Bradley) coaches. That was really the deal maker,” Peterson said. “Everything just felt right.”

Peterson’s club coach – DC Mather – said Bradley had been looking for a outside hitter for the class of 2015 in the JUCO ranks and were looking for high school outsides for the 2016 class, but they threw that plan out the window once they saw Peterson.

“I really think Bradley is getting a gem,” Mather said. “I think they may have stolen a really good player.

“I would love to see what a full year of volleyball, weights and another club season does for her. When she gets out to Bradley, she’ll be ready to play at that level. Hopefully we get her back and get her prepared.”

Peterson played a huge roll as a junior in Grand Island going 22-14 last season and reaching the Class A State Tournament. She led the Islanders with 418 kills and she was third on the team with 38 blocks.

Grand Island coach Bill Root said Peterson’s best volleyball is still years ahead of her, which bodes well for Bradley.

“Obviously, she can hit the ball pretty well,” Root said. “Her ball handling can improve a ton and her whole game too. She’s far from reaching her potential. She’s a really nice athlete.”

Peterson gave a lot of credit for her ability to earn the scholarship – which is full ride for all four years – to her experience and teammates with Nebraska ONE Lone Wolf.

“Club season is the reason why I’m going to have a chance to play in college,” Peterson said. “The players welcomed me and my sister so well and DC is such a great coach.”

Peterson’s sister, twin Savana, is a 5-foot-6 libero/defensive specialist and Bradley is interested in her joining the program as well. Sierra said she has a pretty good idea what Savana might decide in the next few weeks.

“I never thought I would go to college eight hours from home,” she said. “But, Savana and I, like, we’re inseparable.”

Nebraska ONE Lone Wolf teammate Anna Holmquist, a 6-foot-1 middle from Lincoln East, also recently made her college commitment. She will attend Wingate University – a Division II program in North Carolina.

As a junior last season at Lincoln East, Holmquist had 265 kills and a .400 hitting percentage. She also recorded 77 total blocks and added 21 ace serves.

Wingate went 32-3 last year and reached the NCAA Division II national quarterfinals. In the past five seasons, Wingate has gone a combined 163-11 and reached the NCAA Division II quarterfinals three times.

Mather called Holmquist a perfectionist and a very cerebral player who found the perfect fit for herself both athletically and academically at Wingate.

“If you’re looking for a kid that has that middle mentality of just going out and getting it done no matter what you ask,” Mather said. “That’s Anna.”