Leesburg, Va. — Tuscarora High School senior Ashton Dunnigan has made a commitment to Coastal Carolina University to play beach volleyball beginning in the 2019-2020 academic year.
“Being a college athlete at the Division I level has always been a dream. The fact that it is now a reality is crazy,” Dunnigan said. “I have worked so hard to achieve my goals. I now know exactly what school I am going to and what I am going to study, so I feel very relieved.”
The 5-foot-7 Husky has been a part of the Tuscarora volleyball program for the past four years and helped lead the Huskies to the 2017 VHSL 5A State championship. However, Dunnigan’s road to the state title was not easy.
After playing libero her freshman year, Dunnigan was set for her sophomore season but a torn ACL and meniscus halted her path.
“It was life shattering. I got reconstructive knee surgery in the fall of 2016. I was determined to recover as fast as possible,” Dunnigan added. “After a entire year of physical therapy, in the fall of 2017, I finally recovered midway through the high school indoor season; my team and I went on to win the state championship that season.”
Just a year after winning the state championship, Tuscarora’s 2018 campaign was cut short in a VHSL Region 5C semifinal. While the season didn’t turn out as planned, Dunnigan got to experience it with her family.
Dunnigan’s sisters Meghan and Kaitlyn also play varsity volleyball at Tuscarora, and their cousin Kelsey Anderson took over as the Huskies’ head coach prior to the 2018 season.
“I watched Kelsey play indoor volleyball at Loudoun County and win three state championships,” Dunnigan said. “Watching her sparked my love for volleyball.”
Having wrapped up her career at Tuscarora, Dunnigan is excited about her future in beach volleyball with the Division I Chanticleers.
“I love the venue and vibrant beach better than indoor,” Dunnigan said. “Coastal Carolina is the school for me because I love the atmosphere of the school and the effort that the coach has put into being the best program possible.”