Indiana State volleyball freshman Cadence Gilley was thrust into a big role the moment she stepped foot onto the Terre Haute campus.
Gilley, a Columbus East graduate, was in the rotation for the Sycamores in their opening match and has been in that role ever since. She looks to build on that success for the next couple years.
When Gilley was on the recruiting trail in high school, one of the first calls she received was from Indiana State coach Ashlee Pritchard, who was the coach at Marian at the time. Pritchard eventually didn’t land Gilley at Marian, but they would be united when Pritchard accepted the head coaching job for the Sycamores last April. Like Pritchard did previously, Gilley was one of the first to reach out to Pritchard upon learning that she had accepted the head coaching position.
“I think that it’s pretty cool that she was the first person I talked to, and now, I get the opportunity to play for her,” Gilley said. “Even though it’s at a different school, I still get the opportunity to play for her, and I’ve loved it so far this season. It’s been really fun, and I can’t wait for the rest of my years with her.”
Gilley was one of the more versatile volleyball players at East. She played nearly every position on the back line, even as a setter and the libero during her high school career.
This season, Gilley started as the right back, but then she transitioned playing to the left back spot to finish the season.
“For the longest time, I’ve always been a right back player, especially when I first started volleyball. I was the setter, so I was used to playing right back,” Gilley said. “I’ve also been the libero for high school. I got to play all the positions in the back row, so it’s like, ‘Put me anywhere and I’ll get the job done.’”
That she did. Gilley had a tremendous freshman campaign, leading the team in aces with 18. She was third on the team in digs with 212 and also added 24 assists in 93 sets played in 26 matches.
“She is very competitive in everything that she does,” Pritchard said. “For me, the way we run our girls on the court, it’s got to be about defense and ball control, and she had that from the training she had in high school and club. She was very consistent, always doing what we asked of her to do and always wanted to go for the ball. From the back row standpoint, talking to our hitters in the front row, and that consistency piece is really big for us.
“Trusting the process and trusting our system and she’s a hilarious person,” Pritchard added. “She loves to have fun. She loves to joke around with us and her teammates. I think you put it all together, that was something that we needed on the court and helped her earn that position.”
Pritchard saw Gilley’s potential, hence why she was recruited by Pritchard in high school, and Gilley found herself in the opening match rotation against Indiana. Pritchard mentioned that Gilley gained a lot of confidence during the season.
Gilley admitted she was nervous when she first heard she was going to be a starter, but was also excited to see her hard work pay off.
“I was really blessed to have the opportunity. I knew even though that my spot is never safe, there’s always competition at all times in college and in any sport. I needed to continue to work and keep that spot and continue to earn it,” Gilley said. “Everyone was super encouraging, and they were all very welcoming and very supportive… I have a very supportive team and coaches. It was really good.”
Indiana State finished the season 3-23. Even though the record is not what Gilley and the team expected this season, the future looks bright for the Sycamores with many returning players, new recruits coming in next year and with Pritchard and the coaching staff getting a full offseason with the team.
Pritchard said she’s excited to work with Gilley during the spring and to see how she’ll continue to grow in the program. If the confidence and consistency keeps going for Gilley, Pritchard said it’ll be big for the program going forward.
Gilley mentioned that the coaching staff focuses on making sure they’re the hardest working and most disciplined team. She added that they’re also big on communication on the court.
“I’m going to make sure I keep talking to my teammates throughout the whole play, and I’m going to be very competitive and hardworking because that’s what they want,” Gilley said. “That’s what they’re looking for, and I feel like I did a pretty good job of that this season, and I’m looking forward to improve on that for years to come.”
Gilley will have a familiar face as a teammate in a couple years. Last month, her sister, East junior Chloe Gilley, made her verbal commitment to join the Sycamores in 2024. It means all three Gilley siblings will be at Indiana State, with their brother Cole already on the baseball team.
“I’m super excited to play with Chloe and for her to be here. I will admit, I have missed her while I’ve been off at school. I’m happy that she’ll be here, and I’ll get to be here with her and play with her every day. I’m super excited about that,” Cadence Gilley said. “I’m also just really proud of her. She’s worked really hard for this and putting in a lot of work, so I’m excited to see all the things that she does here at ISU.”