Underclass Setter Chooses UCLA

Emma Torres and Jane Maiocco

Though she can not officially sign on to a college program until her senior year, sophomore Audrey Pak recently verbally committed to University of California, Los Angeles, to play volleyball in the fall of 2020. Pak has played as a setter for the Campolindo varsity team since her freshman year and was named League MVP for the 2017 season, a title not typically claimed by underclassmen.

Her high school teammates are confident Pak will be successful at the next level. “As a player, she’s just gonna thrive [at UCLA],” said senior Izzy Artiaga, one of Pak’s teammates. “I don’t think there’s anyone more deserving of this than her, and to also be committed as a sophomore is almost unheard of, especially to UCLA, so that’s really cool.”

Pak started her volleyball career in 3rd grade. “She was technically very sound and consistent,” said head coach Dave Chen. “She was a great competitor and could manage and run a team efficiently.  When she was a freshman, she held herself as if she was a senior.”

“She’s easily the most intelligent player on the team,” added freshman teammate Morgan Coolbaugh.

According to Chen, committing to collegiate athletics during one’s sophomore or junior year is becoming more common. “It definitely is a way to help the student-athlete diffuse the stress of trying to commit to school late in their high school careers,” said Chen.

“For volleyball… [early commitment] just started being a trend,” agreed Pak. “And I don’t think [I’ll change my mind]. I’ve thought about so many schools, and I just love UCLA.” 

“It’s definitely a really big decision [to commit early],” added Coolbaugh, “But it’s her dream school, so obviously we’re all ecstatic for her.”

Sabrina Smith, who Pak played alongside during her freshman season at Campolindo, is currently playing at UCLA as a freshman. “I think that [Pak will] adjust really well because Sabrina is there right now,” said Artiaga.

“She is a driven individual and we are very proud of her,” added Chen.