Samantha Drechsel was ready to come home after a year on the East Coast.
What great fortune for the Washington volleyball team.
“You never want to see players like her leave the area, but when we had a second chance to recruit her, we certainly weren’t going to miss it,” Husky coach Keegan Cook said of Drechsel, from Woodinville.
That was three years ago, and the move has worked well for Drechsel, a senior opposite hitter, and the No. 8 Huskies (8-2). She is the team’s top attacker heading into games Thursday and Saturday against No. 7 Utah (8-0) at Alaska Airlines Arena.
“I had it in my head that I wanted a big adventure,” said Drechsel, who committed to Maryland as a sophomore at Cedar Park Christian School in Bothell. “Maryland was eight miles away from Washington, D.C., and I am kind of a museum nerd and was excited to go to a lot of museums on my off days.”
That is exactly what she did during her freshman season at Maryland, where she started 16 matches, but that didn’t stop her from getting “a little homesick.”
One of the things that struck Drechsel was that her Maryland teammates whose families lived close to the area could take their dirty laundry home to get washed. Back home, Drechsel can do that, too.
“It is true, my mom sometimes does my laundry,” she said, laughing.
The 6-foot-4 Drechsel leads the team in kills with 137, and she scored the match-winning point in two wins over Colorado last week. She knows the competition will be tougher this week.
“I am super excited for the challenge,” Drechsel said of unbeaten Utah. “We’ve been preparing for this, and we know that every time we play them that it’s a battle. We’re excited to get tested this weekend to see what we can do.”
The Huskies will need typically solid performances from Drechsel. What sets her apart from most opposite hitters is her versatility. She is also returning serves from the back row this season, and is one of the team’s better servers.
“I am honored that our coaching staff trusts me (to return serves),” said Drechsel. whose older brother, Trey, played basketball at Western Washington. “This year my role, having my role expanded, has been an adjustment confidence-wise, knowing that even though I hadn’t played in the back row for three years that I can do it.”
Said Cook: “It’s such a critical role to be a serve-receive attacker. It’s such a heavy responsibility. “
Drechsel’s success isn’t unexpected. She was ranked as the No. 23 prospect in the nation by prepvolleyball.com coming out of Cedar Park Christian, where she played for her mother, Marni.
Marni Dreschsel played college volleyball at Pacific Lutheran and is now the volleyball coach at Inglemoor High School in Kenmore.
“She always wants to talk strategy,” Drechsel said of her mother. “I’ve kind of had to say, ‘I’m always playing volleyball and always thinking of volleyball.’ When I see my mom, I want to talk about our family and how her day was, but she is a really good sounding board when I have issues with volleyball.”
This season does not count on a player’s eligibility and Drechsel plans to play volleyball against next year for the Huskies while finishing her art degree.
“It’s crazy thinking that I’m a senior now,” she said. “The years have flown by. I still feel like a freshman in a lot of ways, but with more experience under my belt.”
She has never regretted coming back home and playing at UW, reuniting with friend and club teammate Lauren Sanders, a senior blocker on the team.
Drechsel noted the relationships she has made and the coaching staff for why she is so happy with the decision.
“And being able to go home when I want to has been really good, too,” Drechsel said.