Over the past decade, the University of Louisville volleyball has opted to go into its backyard and bring in a handful of players from a talent-rich area. Katie George, Molly Sauer, Alexis Hamilton, and Anna DeBeer are just a few names on a long list of Derby City standouts, and that pipeline is not ending anytime soon. Mercy Academy graduate Elena Scott is the latest local player that will be suiting up in the red and black. For her, committing to the hometown program made too much sense.
“Being recruited at a young age played a big role in my college decision”, the libero/defensive specialist explained. “Growing up with a large (volleyball) family, staying close to home was one of my main priorities. Not only was Louisville 20 minutes away from home, but the volleyball program was what stood out to me the most. It reminded me of the (family) club team I played on for 12 years, PNK. My mom created a club where I could grow in my own ways and was never restricted. The University of Louisville brought a sense of comfort into my life and was open-minded when it came to my skills. I am very lucky to be able to play for the one school that I have consistently cheered on my entire life.”
Rated as a top-50 2022 recruit by PrepVolleyball.com, Scott comes from a decorated Mercy program that only lost 21 matches in the last four years and appeared in all four state championships within that span. Individually, the 5-foot-9 standout racked up a plethora of All-American honors along with various all-tournament team recognitions and player of the year awards.
Scott shined as soon as she stepped foot on the court in high school, which Jaguar Head Coach Matt Thomerson reiterated repeatedly. Tallying right around 3,000 career assists, she leaves the school as one of the top players in program history.
“She was a kid that came in as a freshman and started her first year for a team that made it to the state finals along with the help of a veteran setter”, he explained. She went from being one of the best setters in the state her freshman year to being the best setter/all-around player as a sophomore up through the rest of her high school career. Elena is a phenomenal athlete.”
The coaching and instruction on both the high school and club levels helped develop Scott into the player she is today. Her growth has been physical and mental from position changes while playing in different age groups to being coached by various respected former athletes. Now that she has reached the collegiate level, Scott has set out numerous new goals for not only herself but her team.
“After watching Louisville play these last few years, I’m extremely excited that I get to participate in the success that they have created”, she said. “This program has worked so hard to reach the level of volleyball that they are at, and I want to help exceed their success even further. A personal goal of mine is to contribute to this team in any way needed and possibly break records. A team goal that would be a dream come true would be winning a national championship in my hometown, Louisville, Ky.”
The Cardinals bring a significant amount of production back for next season, and opportunities may be scarce right away. “I’m not sure what Elena’s role will be at Louisville”, Thomerson said. “But I will tell you that the kid is a beast with her setting abilities; I personally think she’ll end up setting a little bit even if it’s in the back row. I think she’s a huge addition to the program; Louisville already has a great defense and a solid offense, now you get someone that you can have to do whatever you want them to do because Elena is a great all-around player and she’s going to display that “I’m not going to let the ball hit the floor and I’m going to make plays” mentality.”
One of the main returning pieces for the reigning-ACC champions is conference Freshman of the Year and former Assumption High School star Anna DeBeer, with whom Scott is extremely familiar.
“After not only playing against Anna in high school but in grade school and club ball as well, I’m excited to see what we can accomplish when we are on the same side of the net”, Scott said. “Since we’ve played against each other a countless amount of times, we know the other’s skills like the back of our hands. I believe playing against her these past years will help us easily connect when we are on the same side of the net and lead both of us to be successful.”
Outside of DeBeer, Scott has already begun to create relationships with various members of the program.
“I have met almost all of the players/recruits on the team and kept in touch with them since meeting them on my official visit, but there are a few on the team that I have known a little longer”, she explained. “I have played against DeBeer, Ceci Rush, and Alexa Hendricks throughout my high school and club career. I have not played with any of them though, therefore I’m extremely excited to play with a brand new team and build many connections with these amazing athletes. Staying in touch with all the players through social media this past year has made me more and more excited to finally be able to play with them all in the fall.”
One would think that a high school star electing to go to the hometown university would feel an increased amount of pressure, but Thomerson doesn’t see it that way. “The pressure doesn’t bother the high-profile players, because they have been experiencing it since such a young age”, he said. “Playing on that big stage is what they thrive for; they play their best when they play some of the best teams in the nation in Las Vegas, in rivalry games against Assumption and Sacred Heart, etc.”
As big of a star as Scott has been, it’s never about her; there is always a bigger purpose in the picture, one centered around winning and team success. That type of attitude directly reflects that of which the program she is headed to possesses. “Elena is very quiet and reserved”, Thomerson said. “However, she is a fierce competitor; she hates to lose more than she loves to win. Her competitive side was shown more through her play rather than her actions. For her to get credit throughout the years was amazing, and she accepted it very well when she received it, but it was never so much about her personally, but about winning instead.”
Outside of success, Scott realizes that she has a platform to speak to those looking to follow in her footsteps. Her message to the girls looking to play in college is simple: work hard, play the game that you love, and appreciate your unique skill set. Limiting yourself to what you can do on the court hinders the versatility that everyone possesses.