High School Sports

Prep notes: Turlock High’s All-American setter Julia Handy commits to Arizona

Turlock sophomore Julia Handy, who helped guide the Rage 15-1 volleyball team to the Junior National Open Division gold medal is pictured on Thursday afternoon (07-02-15) in The Modesto Bee photo studio. Handy was named the tournament's MVP.
Turlock sophomore Julia Handy, who helped guide the Rage 15-1 volleyball team to the Junior National Open Division gold medal is pictured on Thursday afternoon (07-02-15) in The Modesto Bee photo studio. Handy was named the tournament's MVP. jlee@modbee.com

All-American setter Julia Handy has committed to the University of Arizona.

The Turlock High junior announced her decision on Twitter with the words “Bear Down,” a nod to the university’s motto.

Handy had no shortage of college suitors. In July, following the USA Volleyball Junior Nationals, she narrowed her list down to five: Pacific, Santa Clara, Cal Poly, USC and Arizona.

Eventually, the race came down to the Pacific-12 Conference schools. Growing up, Handy said she followed Pac-12 sports, especially the wildly popular Oregon football team, and dreamed of attending a school in the Power Five conferences.

“I always knew that was where my heart was,” Handy said. “When it came down to Arizona and USC, I just thought about what my experience would be like at each of those schools.”

The Wildcats edged the Trojans with their style of play. Handy said Arizona runs a 5-1 system, which would allow her to play in the front and back rows. It’s the same system she plays with her club team, Rage of Ripon.

“After I got the opportunity to play in the Pac-12, after the Arizona offer, I was excited because everything I worked for – and the team (Rage) worked for – had paid off,” Handy said. “Being in big situations, all the hard work and the coaching, it finally paid off. I’ve been fortunate to be on a good team that has put me in situations to be seen by college coaches.”

The attention was warranted.

Handy has developed into one of the top setters in the Class of 2018 and was named a first-team All-American by PrepVolleyball.com following the Junior Nationals in Indianapolis.

“She’s worked hard for the opportunity to earn a free education, especially a school in the Pac-12. I’m super proud of her,” said Gabe Leal, her club coach with Rage (Ripon). “She has a lot to thank her parents for, because her parents are the ones who made sure she lived out her dream.”

Handy led Turlock to a share of the Central California Conference title last fall. She averaged 9.3 assists per set and was seventh in the state in total assists (1,082).

The goal this year is “more” – an outright conference title and a deep playoff run. She also hopes to continue to develop as a leader, while cleaning up her technique and deception.

“Our goal as a team is to win the CCC outright this year,” Handy said. “Pitman is definitely going to be a challenge because they didn’t lose any players.

“As a team, we have some good freshmen and we didn’t lose that many players, either. We need to take care of league first and then focus on the playoffs. Playing teams like Pitman should prepare us.”

Arizona has qualified for the NCAA Tournament six of the last seven years, including four straight appearances.

Booker takes second – Central Catholic High junior Dauson Booker placed second in the 17-18 javelin at the USATF Junior Olympics in Sacramento on July 30.

Booker, a key piece in the Raiders’ hunt for a fifth straight CIF state football championship, launched his javelin a personal-best 200 feet, 11 inches.

What’s more impressive, the 16-year-old was the youngest in the field. He said youth served him well.

“I wasn’t nervous; excited more than anything,” said Booker, who made his fourth Junior Olympics appearance. “Knowing they were older than me made me want to throw farther.”

As talented as he is with a javelin in his hand, Booker says football is his favorite sport. As a safety and running back, Booker represents the Raiders’ talent and potential this fall.

Coach Roger Canepa said both position groups will be strengths this season.

“(Track) will help with the colleges,” Booker said, “but I want to play football.”

James Burns: 209-578-2150, @jburns1980

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