Probably a few months beyond her years.
“She loves the game,” said her mother, Michelle Jakubowski, who coaches Sky High Adidas 17 Black and the Barrington High School girls’ volleyball team. “She’s been around it since she was in belly.”
Taylor Jakubowski, a 5-7 sophomore from Huntley, might have attended her first volleyball match before she was born, but she’s been playing the game since she was 6.
“I played on the 10s team at Sky High,” Taylor said. “My mom had her own club, so I went there for two years, then when I was 10, I came back to Sky High and played on a 12s team as a libero.
“When I was 11 or 12, I was like, ‘OK, maybe I should start setting,” she added. “’Taylor, let’s do it.’ I fell in love with it and I’ve been setting ever since.”
There was little doubt that Taylor would follow her mother’s footsteps into volleyball after her older sister, Taryn, a sophomore at Creighton, chose soccer, and her younger brothers, Jake and TJ, were ordained to follow their father Andy’s lead into baseball.
“I said, ‘You are never going to play soccer,’” Michelle said. “I have to have one kid who plays volleyball.’ Sometimes I’m a coach and sometimes I’m a mother. We’ve always balanced that well, which is something not everybody can do.
“We just been lucky enough that she can handle it when I coach her, and when I don’t we have great conversations,” Michelle added. “I learn from her, and hopefully, she continues to learn a little from me.”
“It hasn’t been hard with my mom being a coach,” Taylor said. “She has I expectations of me, but I have I expectations of me, too. She tells me what I’m doing wrong, and I just get over it and try to do better. I like it that makes me who I am today.”
Who is Taylor Jakubowski? An awesome daughter, her mother said. What is Taylor Jakubowski? A player so skilled and knowledgeable that Sky High Adidas 16 Black coach Steve Bonnem said he could see her setting in the Big Ten if she were just a touch bit taller.
“I think she’s done growing,” he said. “But her knowledge of volleyball is just outstanding. She understands the game. She knows what’s open. She can be offensive. She can dish the ball to anyone anywhere … on the net, off the net. She gets almost everything.
“She’s an amazing player,” he added.
Sunday at the 1st Alliance Spring Classic at the McCook Convention Center, Taylor, who verbally committed to Seton Hall, amazed again, leading Illprepvb.com’s top-ranked 16s team to a 25-17, 25-15 victory over 1st Alliance 16 Silver in the finals of the 17 & 18 Girls division.
“We’ve got the hitters all over the place and we can run almost every offense,” Bonnem said. “We’re trying to get a little bit more complex now. We’re trying to run more college plays.
“We’ve got the hitters that can adjust to almost anything, and we definitely have the girl who can get them the ball,” he added.
Taylor’s Sky High Adidas 16 Black teammates include outside hitters Madelyn Blake and Camryn Hausler from Crystal Lake Central, outside hitter Trinity Sheridan from Prairie Ridge, and outside hitter Kendall Smith of Glenbrook South.
Also, middle hitters Vanessa Kuliga from Glenbrook South, Margaret Bodman from New Trier and Amari Patterson from Waukegan, libero Josie Schmitendorf from Huntley, and defensive specialist Sophia Wicker from Woodstock.
“It’s so fun,” Taylor said. “There’s three girls who I never played with, and then we have our main group that has always been here. But it’s such a different team, such a different aspect. We all get along so well together, which makes it even more fun.
“We all love playing volleyball, so we just come out here and have fun and do our jobs,” she added.
But the job is far from complete.
Following Sunday’s victory over 1st Alliance 16 Silver, Sky High Adidas 16 Black must wait to learn if it will receive an at-large bid to the USAV Junior National Championships this summer in Detroit, Michigan.
“If we don’t get a bid, we’ll go to AAU’s in Orlando, Florida,” Taylor said. “Orlando or Detroit? I don’t know about that one. I’d rather go to Michigan, though.”
And amaze a few more folks.
For more results from the 1st Alliance Spring Classic, go to www.advancedeventsystems.com/EventResults/(S(rqeawz45wfunz255mtmb5c45))/Home.aspx?e=PTAwMDAwMTQwMzY90