HOUSTON - When Gaby Mansfield was 14-years-old, she knew then that she wanted to play collegiate volleyball.
The 2022 Libero's recruiting process got started a little late but in the end there were roughly six programs she was highly interested in. In the end, the Klein junior decided to stay close to home verbally committing to Genny Volpe's Rice Owls.
"Staying close to home means the world to me," Mansfield said. "My family is extremely close. I have a two-year-old brother that I'm very close to and plan to attend as many of his sporting and school events as possible."
I am extremely blessed and honored to announce that I have verbally committed to Rice University to further my academic and volleyball career!! @RiceVolleyball @KleinVolleyball @PrepDigTX @PrepVolleyball @HoustonSkyline @vypehouston @HoustonChronHS pic.twitter.com/Q81tDPKz0A— Gaby Mansfield (@MansfieldGaby) September 8, 2020
When looking at Rice, the university is in the Top 10 academically. Mansfield wants to pursue a degree in Sports Management and one day become a Sports Agent.
On top of the academic quality, the volleyball program was nationally-ranked throughout the 2019 campaign. Last season, the Owls upset Texas, entered the NCAA Tournament as the 21st-ranked team in the country and earned the program's first-ever tourney victory over Oklahoma.
As Mansfield was working her way up on the club volleyball scene, that's where she developed the confidence that she could be a Division I player one day.
"My coaches for 11's, 12's and 13's, Coach Bill & Christie Jenkins pushed me to my limits and always told me that I could do anything I put my mind to," Mansfield, who plays for Houston Skyline, said. "That created a great mindset for me going forward."
Mansfield is a part of the VYPE Preseason No. 1 team Klein Bearkats, who's 2020 season begins in the next week with Class 6A volleyball being pushed back a month due to COVID-19. Teammates Devan Taylor (Clemson) and Annie Antar (University of North Florida-Indoor) are also verbally committed to play college volleyball.