There are few people at school who are unknown to Rachael Schlect.
But then again, there aren’t too many new faces she’s had to learn over the years.
Schlect attends The Oaks Classical Christian Academy in Spokane Valley, where her graduating class is roughly 20 people. It’s a big family, as Schlect would describe her small group of seniors, most of whom she has known since she started attending the K-12 academy in second grade.
“We’re small, but we’re all a tight-knit group,” Schlect said.
With small numbers come scarce opportunities to play sports in a school jersey. The Oaks offers a small number of sports, including Schlect’s favorite – volleyball.
But when ninth grade came around, Schlect decided to keep attending The Oaks as a student but play for a more competitive team just a few minutes away at the public school in her district – University High.
The now-18-year-old impressed the Titans’ coaching staff when she first tried out on the court in 2014, particularly former varsity head coach Mike Summers, who is now coaching at Lake City. Summers turned Schlect into a part-time Titan, making her the only freshman on the varsity squad that season.
Schlect wasn’t alone on her team of Titans. Standing next to her on the court for the first time was her older sister Sydney, who was a senior at The Oaks but also played volleyball at University.
“My favorite times playing volleyball was playing on the (same) court as big sis,” Schlect said.
That year, the Schlect sisters helped their Titans to the state tournament for the second straight season. They lost in the quarterfinals, but Rachael still remembered it as a special ending to what became her favorite season on the court.
“I can specifically remember just hugging my sister afterward. It just hit me like, OK, I won’t be able to play with her again,” Rachael said. “That year was great.”
Sydney said throughout that season, it was her now-5-foot-10 baby sister who stole the show on a court full of mostly seniors.
“I just recall her just completely roof-blocking people as a freshman,” Sydney said. “It’s kind of fun for me to think back on that year because I learned a lot about her and I found so many leadership qualities in her that I admire.”
Sydney went off to play volleyball at Northwest University in Kirkland, Washington, leaving Rachael to represent The Oaks alone on the University court.
She represented them well.
According to stats compiled by maxpreps.com, the four-year starter has accumulated 894 kills, 268 blocks and has posted a .384 hitting percentage in 304 sets since the start of her freshman year. She’s also had 588 digs and 121 aces while helping her team to two state tournaments.
Her stats have caught the attention of those outside the Titans, particularly last year when she was named the Greater Spokane League’s co-MVP of volleyball.
She was also voted to be the Most Valuable Offensive Player of the season by her teammates last year after posting team-highs in kills (274) and blocks (65).
Her power on the court has continued to rough up the court in her final season at University. The senior has helped the Titans to a 2-1 league record heading in to Thursday’s match at Rogers.
Rachael, who was named University’s floor captain and co-team captain, has stayed focused at the net, posting a .414 hitting percentage and collecting 51 digs and 111 kills in 27 sets this season. She’s also given plenty of thought to what will come after she leave’s University’s squad.
Last December, Rachael gave an oral commitment to Point Loma Nazarene University, a Division II Christian liberal arts college in San Diego. She plans to sign her letter of intent in November.
For now, Rachael is focused on what’s right in front of her: graduating with her tight-knit class at The Oaks and making her final mark on the University volleyball floor.
In her last season, she wants to leave behind more than just a stat sheet. Rachael said she hopes to leave University and the younger athletes with a sense of unity that she has learned well from her class at The Oaks.
“Holding each other accountable, and loving one another, but still pushing one another,” Rachael said. “… that’s the legacy we want to leave, is that kind of family atmosphere that we built. I think that’s even more important than leaving a legacy of records.”