Jackson signs with Virginia Tech
Talyn Jackson could be excused on Wednesday if she felt a moment of relief when she signed a National Letter of Intent to play volleyball for Virginia Tech.
You see, the Douglas High senior has had to wait since originally giving her verbal commitment to the Hokies in spring 2016 and then having her plan to graduate one year early put on hold due to an injury from an automobile accident. Her plan was to share a signing ceremony in April with Douglas teammate and UConn-bound Isabelle Peterson.
“I’ve been waiting,” Jackson said. “I thought I was going to sign with Isabelle, so that was hard for me when she signed and I couldn’t do it. I’ve just been waiting, so I’m really excited.”
She participated in a letter signing ceremony Wednesday night along with Silver State Volleyball Club teammates McKenna Brewer (South Tahoe High) and Kaila Spevak (McQueen High). Spevak signed with the University of Nevada and Brewer signed with Sonoma State University.
Jackson, a four-year starting setter for Douglas, came back to play her senior season and will receive her high school diploma at the end of the current semester in December.
“I go for my official visit (to Blacksburg, Va.) next week and then I leave Jan. 11 for classes,” Jackson said this week, adding that she wants to major in business and eventually go to law school (her father, Mark Jackson, currently serves as Douglas County District Attorney).
Jill Wilson, who took over as head coach at Virginia Tech in January, is excited to have Jackson in the program.
“Talyn combines athleticism with a fast pace offense,” Wilson told the Hokiesports.com website. “We will have a huge advantage to have her enrolled in the spring semester to get working on her setting offense and benefit from our strength training program. Talyn is a driven player that isn’t afraid to dream big for the future of our program and being in setter role, that leadership will be vital.”
Then again, Jackson is simply happy to be playing at all after that automobile accident late last year during an early morning trip to club practice in Reno. The automobile that she was riding in hydroplaned in heavy rain on the land bridge portion of I-580 just north of Washoe Valley.
Jackson was diagnosed with post-concussion syndrome and trauma to her cerebellum from the accident.
“It was rough; a very hard time in my life, but it’s a lot better now,” she said. “There are still some days where I get symptoms of my injury, but I can play volleyball now, so that’s good, and it’s definitely not as bad.”
There were times earlier this year when she had doubts, though.
“It was just really hard when it first happened because a lot of me thought that I wouldn’t be able to play again, and I didn’t want to believe it,” Jackson said. “It only seemed like I was going downhill, so I was really upset. It was really hard for my parents and that made it hard for me, too. I didn’t realize how serious as it was until I got to the neurological chiropractor and he told me it was a bad concussion.”
Jackson was unable to play volleyball and missed significant class time toward the end of her junior year due to dizziness and unsteadiness on her feet, Mark Jackson said in April.
“I went to a couple of practices toward the end of their (Silver State Volleyball Club 18 Mizuno) season to see if I could do it, and I couldn’t,” she said. “I could barely see the ball and I felt like I was going to fall over every time I hit. That part of it was really hard because that’s when I wasn’t sure if I was going to be able to play. Then, in July, I started beach workouts with Douglas volleyball and that’s when it started feeling better.”
The 5-foot-11 Jackson went on to have a successful senior season this fall, as she put up some lofty individual statistics along the way. Jackson led her team in kills, aces and assists to go with an impressive .430 hitting percentage and 56.8 kill percentage. Douglas posted an 18-13 record — the Tigers were 78-47 overall, including a region title in 2014, during her four seasons as a starter — to finish fourth in the Sierra League.
The Tigers had a number of new faces on the floor this season due to graduation, in addition to the transfer of 6-foot all-leaguer Marianna Bertolone, who has helped lead the Wilson Tigers (Washington, D.C.) to a 32-2 record and berth on Wednesday in the District of Columbia semifinals.
“We improved a lot at the end of this season,” Jackson said. “I think a lot of it was just our chemistry as a team. Our team was really competitive and we wanted to win; having that mentality coming into the games really helped us.”