Posted On: 08/29/14 10:50 PM

NORTH PLATTE – Maybe this is Tom Hilbert’s way at getting back at Nebraska for taking men’s basketball coach Tim Miles away from Colorado State. Or, maybe the Colorado State volleyball coach is developing a liking for Nebraska high school players.

Either way, the veteran coach for the Rams is making an impression on Nebraska’s Class of 2016 and he landed one of the state’s best high school juniors Thursday when North Platte’s Olivia Nicholson gave her verbal commitment to Colorado State.

Nicholson, a 6-foot-1 middle for the Bulldogs, is the second Nebraska high school junior to commit to the Rams this month, joining Gretna standout libero Amanda Young.

In a weird “It’s a Small World” coincidence, the Young family lived in North Platte for a handful of years and Young’s father, now an Omaha optometrist, did LASIK surgery on Nicholson’s mother when both families lived in North Platte. Now their daughters are both headed to Colorado State to play volleyball.

Making the choice to become a Ram didn’t require perfect vision, Nicholson said. She said she loved everything about Colorado State, from its proximity to North Platte, to the campus to the coaching staff.

She chose Colorado State over offers from Nebraska-Omaha, Tulsa and James Madison.

“Tulsa I really loved. It’s a great school and it’s smaller, which I really liked,” Nicholson said. “And I really didn’t want to go towards Lincoln or Omaha. It seems like everyone around (North Platte) moves that way and I wanted to do my own thing.”

Being fairly close to family also was important in Nicholson’s decision, she said. Fort Collins is just a four-hour drive from North Platte and only three hours for her grandparents, who live in Ogallala and come to all her matches. She also said she wants to be able to watch her younger siblings grow up.

“I don’t want to miss their stuff,” Nicholson said.

Nicholson’s relationship with the Colorado State coaching staff started when she made the Team USA U18 Youth Team this summer and competed in Puerto Rico. One of the assistants on Team USA was Brook Coulter, the associate head coach at Colorado State.

Hilbert watched Nicholson practice and compete for Team USA, which eventually led to Nicholson visiting the campus. The scholarship offer then came in recent days.

According to Nicholson, Hilbert said she sees her as a right side and possibly even utilizing her abilities as a setter at the next level.

Nicholson, who finished last year with 247 kills and 69 blocks for North Platte, said having the recruiting process over now is a huge relief heading into the high school season.

“It feels great. I was stressed so much,” she said. “I was so stressed and I would be in horrible moods. It’s something that I didn’t want to rush into making a decision on, but it’s very hard to manage it. It’s a relief to make the decision and now be able to focus on high school ball. It’s a huge weight off my shoulders.”