Posted On: 07/27/14 2:09 AM

OMAHA – Every once in a while, a volleyball player finds a perfect fit – both athletically and academically – for a college destination.

For Omaha Westside 6-foot-1 middle Lauren Salerno, that’s exactly what happened today when she committed to play at Southeast Missouri State. Salerno said her main focus was to find the right school for her pursuit of a Dietetics/Nutrition degree.

“That’s the first thing I looked at, and they have a really good program, and I really liked that,” Salerno said. “The volleyball program is really good and the girls on the team and coaches are really nice.”

Salerno, who holds the Omaha Westside school record for blocks in a season with 125, was also looking at Indiana State, South Dakota State and Sioux Falls before committing to the Redhawks, which compete in the Ohio Valley Conference.

Last season, Southeast Missouri State went 17-16 and scored wins over Mississippi State and Southern Illinois and also took a set from Ohio State in a 3-1 loss. The Redhawks finished the season with a loss to Austin Peay in the OVC Tournament championship match.

Salerno said Southeast Missouri State first showed interest in her after seeing her play at the AAU National Championships in Orlando, where she played for the River City Juniors 171 team. Salerno was initially going to take part in a camp at Southeast Missouri State, but after suffering an ankle injury at the Creighton team camp recently, Salerno instead simply visited the campus this week and that’s when she got the offer.

Salerno becomes the first Metro Conference player in the Class of 2015 to give a verbal commitment to a Division I program. In all, she is the eighth Nebraska player from the class to secure a Division I playing future. She also is the second player from the River City Juniors 171 team to commit to a Division I school, joining Fremont’s Gessica Gdowski, who is heading to UNO.

Salerno said the success of her River City Juniors team this summer, which finished third in the AAU National Championships in the 17 Premier division, certainly helped her get. Salerno performed well individually as well, earing All-Tournament Team honors.

“Knowing it was the last tournament of the season, we wanted to go all-out and play all-out and we all did that,” Salerno said.

That’s also the way she wants to play her final season at Westside. Her current ankle issue won’t prevent her from starting the season with her team.

“I just want to put it all out there and do good things with my teammates,” she said. “My goal is to show the younger girls how hard you have to work.”