Plano West senior Kendall Lukachek has seen time on the volleyball court with the Lady Wolves dating back to her freshman year in 2017. It was the following summer where, before the outside hitter was so much as a high school sophomore, she found her dream college.
A rigorous camp at the University of Miami did wonders for Lukachek’s outlook on what she wanted in a school at the next level — something that stuck with her as she continued to make waves on the high school courts. Nearly two years after that indelible first impression, Lukachek received an offer from Miami and didn’t hesitate in solidifying the next chapter of her volleyball career.
“This moment means a lot to me. I’m so excited for the opportunity. My recruiting process has been a crazy journey so for it to finally be over and thinking about all the hard work in the gym, the classroom — for it to have finally paid off means the world to me,” Lukachek said. “What’s always been most important to me is finding the best of both worlds — a strong academic school and a strong volleyball program. I’ve been looking to study pre-med and Miami offers the best of both. It’s always had what I’m looking for.”
An academic all-district pick, Lukachek had narrowed her decision down to a who’s who of prominent universities. Ivy League schools like Princeton, Brown were on her radar, as were New York University, Colgate and Davidson. But an invite to visit Miami for a camp in 2018 set the wheels in motion for Lukachek’s interest in the Hurricanes.
“I fell in love with the school, the culture of the team, the academics and the campus. It’s been my dream school ever since,” she said. “… It was a really tough camp, four straight days of really intense volleyball. I loved every second of it and I walked out knowing that Miami was where I wanted to be.”
Part of the relief in eventually committing was knowing that she could put a manic recruiting process to rest — one that had its share of peaks and valleys for the outside hitter.
“You can’t ever give up. Just constant communication with the coaches — sending them emails and updated film. I had to learn not to give up through that process and it really showed through my commitment to Miami,” Lukachek said. “It was really crazy. You could get so close to a college and then they’d have a random transfer come in and no longer need you. It was a very surreal, crazy process, but at the end it was all worth it. All the hard work I put into it all paid off in the end.”
Part of that journey included a lapse in talks with Miami that lasted nearly a year, according to Lukachek. But those discussions reignited one month ago, which led to the long-awaited offer from the program.
“It didn’t feel real. It was very surreal, just a dream come true,” Lukachek said.
For the time being, Lukachek said she plans to major in biology on the pre-med track with an eye toward something that will fulfill her passion for helping other people.
Before she next heads east to Miami, Lukachek is of one several outside hitters hoping to carve out an expanded role on a West team looking to build off a state runner-up campaign last year. Falling one set win short of hoisting a Class 6A championship, the Lady Wolves will be working in plenty of new faces on the outside following the graduation of all-state performers like Jill Pressly, Iman Ndiaye and Noelle Piatas.
“We’re really excited about this next season. The senior class we just had graduate was obviously pretty amazing and we’re going to miss them a lot,” Lukachek said. “They set the bar high for us, but we’re excited about the opportunity and we expect to do well.”
Lukachek, who logged 14 kills in a reserve role last season, is one of several hitters looking fill those vacant roles on the attack.
“I want to be the best volleyball player I can be,” Lukachek said. “The goal is to go to state, but just to be the best player I can be for my coach and the best teammate I can be for the other girls on the team. It’s always good to push your other teammates to put everyone in the best position to succeed.”