ELKHART — Azariah Stahl did not want to have any regrets about her college decision.
So, after careful consideration, the volleyball standout heading into her senior year at Central High School has committed to Purdue University. The 17-year-old chose the Boilermakers over other Big Ten schools Illinois and Ohio State.
“I knew that wherever I was going to commit, I would not have to second-guess myself,” said Stahl, a 5-foot-11 outside hitter. “Anywhere I would have gone, I would have gotten a great education and had a great volleyball experience. But I wanted to go somewhere I would be comfortable all four years. I just became real comfortable with my decision.”
Purdue head coach Dave Shondell has been recruiting Stahl since she was in the eighth grade. The fact that friends and former teammates, like Annie Drews (who played at Central before transferring to Penn), are at Purdue made the decision even easier.
“(Familiarity) is very good for me,” said Stahl. “I’m not going to be thrown into something completely new.”
While Purdue has enjoyed plenty of success — the Boilers went 29-5 overall and tied for second in the Big Ten at 16-4 in 2011 — Stahl likes the fact that the program is very family-oriented.
“They don’t run volleyball like a business,” said Stahl. “The coaches and like second moms and second dads to the players.”
Academics are also important to Stahl, who plans to major in psychology.
“I want to be a therapist,” said Stahl. “I want to help people with their problems. I love helping people out and finding out what makes the mind tick. That kind of stuff intrigues me.”
Stahl, who plays for her mother, Yolanda, at Central, is coming off a junior prep season in which she produced head-turning numbers: 710 kills, 292 digs, 80 service aces and 20 assists for a 24-11 team. She was named the Northern Indiana Conference offensive player of the year.
As a Central sophomore, she racked up 461 kills, 217 digs, 92 aces and 12 assists and helped the Blue Blazers go 25-7.
Stahl has been named to PrepVolleyball.com honors lists as a freshman and sophomore.
Since last winter, she has played club volleyball for Circle City in Indianapolis. That team is coached by Lance Keating.
This spring, Stahl was one of 24 players selected for the U.S. Women’s Junior National Volleyball Training Team. She is in Des Moines, Iowa, through July 28 to train and play and try to earn a spot on the 12-player squad that will represent the U.S. in Nicaragua. If Stahl makes the team, she will miss a tournament and a few other matches for Central.