By Rob Hunt

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PENDLETON — Champaign, Illinois, is the home for one of the best junior college volleyball programs in the country. This fall, it will also become home to one of the best players Pendleton Heights athletics has to offer.

Senior three-sport athlete Ashley King recently signed to continue her volleyball and scholastic career at Parkland College.

As a senior, King was among the leaders for the Arabians in virtually every statistical category. She was fourth in kill percentage, second in ace percentage, third in blocks, fifth in digs, and second in assists for first-year Pendleton Heights coach Blair Barksdale, who says King’s versatility is her greatest strength.

“She’s so competitive,” Barksdale said. “They could use her as an attacker, a setter or blocking. That’s going to be one of the biggest advantages for her in taking her game to the next level.”

Parkland is a Division II school that has compiled a record of 109-2 during the past two seasons, including back-to-back National Junior College Athletic Association national championships. King’s versatility and overall athletic ability — she also started for the basketball team and is currently the starting third baseman for the softball team — was the attraction for Parkland.

“I am really excited to go to Parkland,” King said. “They are excited about my athleticism and raw potential, so I’m really excited to see what they can do with my skills.”

Barksdale said this is a good opportunity for King and Parkland.

“She was a great leader for our team as a senior,” Barksdale said. “I’m excited that she gets to take her game that we all love to the next level. Even for Division II — it’s very competitive. She’ll have to work hard and compete for a spot, but she has that potential.”

King plans to study kinesiology and play at the junior college level for two years before transferring and continuing her education and volleyball career.