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Gabby Deery sticks with her heart, verbally commits to Iowa for volleyball

Matt LevinsThe Hawk Eye

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Gabby Deery burst on the high school volleyball scene like a bolt of lightning, taking the state by storm in helping Notre Dame win back-to-back Class 1A state championships.

Deery's efforts have not gone unnoticed.

Deery, who will be a senior at Notre Dame High School for the 2022-23 school year, recently verbally committed to continue her volleyball career at the University of Iowa starting with the 2023-24 season.

While the recruiting process can be both nerve wracking and time consuming, Deery knew all along where she wanted to go. She stuck to her conviction.

"The University of Iowa has always been my number one choice. I grew up being a Hawkeye fan. My four older sisters have attended Iowa and one will be a senior there while I am a freshman," Deery said. "The key factors in picking a school for me were academics, coaching style, team camaraderie, and location. Iowa was the perfect fit, especially since it is close to home and is in a competitive conference." 

Deery was named captain of the all-tournament team at state and earned first team all-state honors as a junior, along with all-district and all-conference accolades. She was named Player of the Year in Class 1A. Deery averaged 4.2 kills, 0.4 blocks and 2.5 digs per set and served 87.7 percent with 64 aces. She led Class 1A in kills with 466 and was fourth in kill attempts with 1,028.

Gabby Deery

As a sophomore, the six-foot Deery averaged 4.1 kills, 1.8 digs and 1.2 blocks and served 87.8 percent.

Deery originally drew the interest of former Iowa volleyball head coach Vicki Brown two years ago. The two developed a close relationship and Deery was all set to commit to Iowa.

Then following the 2021 season, Sparks was let go as coach of the Hawkeyes, leaving Deery's future plans up in the air.

Iowa hired Jim Barnes as head coach on Dec. 28, and Deery decided that she was sticking with the Hawkeyes.

Burlington Notre Dame junior Gabby Deery knocks the ball back over the net against Holy Trinity in their Class 1A state volleyball match on Wednesday, Nov. 3, 2021, in Cedar Rapids.

"After the state tournament, the previous coach and I had planned to continue our communication. I was caught off guard when I heard she was let go. This was unexpected and stressful. Iowa no longer had a head coach and I was unsure what the future coach would be looking for," Deery said. "I realized I needed to start the recruiting process over. With many athletes taking a COVID year, it was difficult for the 2023s to find a fit. Jim Barnes was hired as the new head coach of the Iowa volleyball team shortly after their season ended. Coach Barnes has 24 years of experience as a head coach. He was at Tulane University in New Orleans for six seasons before being hired at Iowa. After the new Iowa coaching staff watched me at several qualifiers, they reached out and I later accepted after meeting Coach Barnes in person."

Deery, who hopes to major in dentistry at Iowa and follow in the footsteps of her uncle and sister, is looking forward to joining the Iowa team next fall. But first she wants to help bring another state championship to Notre Dame.

"I want to continue working on my versatility as I have played outside, middle, and right. I am looking forward to improvement as I will soon be playing at Nationals with Iowa Rockets and starting my senior high school season this August," said Deery, the youngest daughter of Brad and Jeanne Deery. "I have always loved the idea of playing for a big school. It most definitely will be a huge commitment but I feel it is the perfect fit for me." 

Matt Levins is a sports reporter for the USA TODAY Network in Burlington, Iowa, who has covered local sports for 31 years. Reach him at mlevins@thehawkeye.com.