Thursday, September 16, 2021

Independence’s Maddy Bilinovic commits to Penn State

Independence sophomore Maddy Bilinovic was a key part of the Blue Devils’ run to the Division III state Final Four this fall and her efforts over the past two years haven’t gone unnoticed.

The 5-foot-5 libero had drawn interest from college programs such as Alabama, Creighton, Georgia, Iowa State, Maryland, North Carolina, Rutgers and USC. On Wednesday, she received an offer from Penn State University and committed to the program the next day.

“It’s an incredible feeling knowing I get to continue my volleyball career at one of the top college programs in the nation,” Bilinovic said. “The coaching staff there is amazing and I couldn’t be more excited to learn and develop in such a great environment.”

The Nittany Lions first learned of Bilinovic during her eighth grade year and she camped at the school over the past two summers.

She made an unofficial visit to Happy Valley on Wednesday for Penn State’s match against Indiana.

Landing the offer was a dream come true.

“I instantly fell in love with everything about this school,” Bilinovic said. “Coach (Russ) Rose offered me Wednesday night after I watched their match. After talking it over with my parents I decided the next day (to commit).”

It was an easy decision to put an early end to the recruiting process.

“Penn State has always been my dream school,” Bilinovic said. “I love everything about their campus. It is a great academic school where I will be able to further my education and, of course, the volleyball side of it was a huge factor. I’m the type of athlete that wants to be pushed and become the best player possible; that’s exactly how I will be coached at Penn State. I was blessed with some great school options. All of these schools were so amazing and had incredible coaching staffs, but at the end of the day I knew in my heart where I belonged.”

The Nittany Lions have won seven national titles in their history including six since 2007.

Through two years at Independence, Bilinovic has recorded 955 digs, 135 service aces, 32 kills, 97 assists and 1,028 service receptions with just 25 errors in 159 sets played.

Independence has finished 46-6 with Bilinovic on the roster.

“Maddy has played a key role in our program’s success these last two years,” said Independence coach Megan Osysko. “Her ability to keep the ball off the floor and deliver a consistent pass to the setter has allowed us to speed up our offense and be competitive against bigger teams.”

With two years left, Bilinovic intends to add to her legacy.

“I’m going to approach these next two years very focused,” she said. “I know I need to work every day to get to the next level. My team and I were very happy with getting so far in the tournament this past high school season, but we were not satisfied. We need to all get better during this club season then come back much stronger.”

The Blue Devils return all but one starter next season, leaving the team confident in making another run at the Final Four.

“Making school history this year was unforgettable,” Bilinovic said. “People kept telling me to take everything in because next year you probably won’t be here, but I disagree. I know if we continue to work hard and get better as a team we will be back. Losing our senior captain obviously hurts, but now it’s time for others to step up, including myself. It is our ultimate goal for our team to win a state title.”

Steve Hare
Steve Hare is the Chagrin Valley Conference's Sports Information Director. He also created and publishes, an online publication dedicated to providing hyperlocal coverage to area high school athletic programs. Hare began covering high school sports for the Lake County News Herald in 1997. Hare attended Willoughby South High School through the middle of his senior year, then graduated from Berkshire High School in Burton in 1986. He played football, wrestled and was an all-Geauga county baseball player (1986). He lives in Chardon with his wife Paulette and their children.

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