Fenwick senior middle hitter Samantha Pethokoukis, a Western Springs resident, made a verbal commitment to Siena College in Loudonville, N.Y., before the summer and recently returned from the USAV Junior Nationals in Dallas.
Her south suburban Michio Chicago club team entered the tournament as a No. 13 seed, but finished sixth out of 24 teams.
“Our match to get us in the gold medal round was incredible,” Michio coach Naveed Nizam said. “We won the first set and were losing the second, 8-20. We came back to win that set and the match 25-23 with Sam making the match-winning block.”
Her younger sister Sophia, who will be a freshman at Fenwick this fall, also plays volleyball and competed for Michio this past season.
After returning from Dallas, Pethokoukis took time during a Michigan vacation to email responses to questions from Pioneer Press:
Q: Your sister Gabby will be a sophomore playing at Villanova. How much of an influence was she in your recruiting process?
A: My older sister has been a great help my whole life, especially during the college search process. She told me to find a school I could see myself attending even if I wasn’t playing volleyball.
Q: What did you like most about Siena?
A: I visited Siena College in early March and I just loved it! Like Fenwick, it is Roman Catholic and a great academic school with a lot of school spirit. The campus is beautiful and is a nice, safe community.
Q: What other schools did you consider? Was Villanova ever an option?
A: I visited and had been contacted by schools like Providence, Fordham, New Hampshire, Colgate and Holy Cross. I also visited Gabby during a free weekend, but I was not looking at Villanova.
Q: Did you plan on making your college commitment long before you to entered your senior year?
A: My decision was based on finding a school that was the right fit for me. And Siena is that school.
Q. I believe you spent one year at Benet (with Gabby). How has the adjustment gone for you with Fenwick’s program?
A. My transition and time at Fenwick has been really great. I absolutely love the school. It is a very supportive, family-oriented community. On the volleyball side of things, it has been specially nice at Fenwick to play for coaches who have played college volleyball at a high level. I could not be happier with the experience.
Q. You switched from Western Springs-based 1st Alliance to Michio. How did you latch on to that club?
A. Many of the girls play high school volleyball at Mother McAuley, one of the best high school teams in the state. I was honored to be on a team with such an elite group of athletes.
Q. What are you looking forward to the most this fall for the Friars?
A. I am looking forward to my senior year at Fenwick. As a team we are hoping to build on what we started, focusing on team chemistry. When you play together as a team, anything is possible.