To say that the Cave City Cavewomen stepped up a level in competition this season on the volleyball court would be a lot like saying water is wet.
Not only did the Cavewomen move up from Class 3A to Class 4A, they also found themselves smack in the middle of the 4A Northeast Conference, a league stocked with perennial powers and state champions like Westside, Valley View and Brookland.
However, that big step up didn't faze the Cavewomen much at all.
Especially Rachel Roebuck.
After earning All-State honors at the 3A level a season ago, Roebuck played her way onto the All-State team in Class 4A this year.
And for her efforts, Roebuck was rewarded with a scholarship to play college volleyball at Arkansas Tech University for the next few seasons.
Roebuck signed her letter of intent to play for the Golden Suns in a ceremony April 13 at the Cave City Gymnasium.
Roebuck chose Arkansas Tech over Lyon College and Williams Baptist University.
"You can't even imagine how proud I am for her," said Cave City Head Volleyball Coach Crystal Bradley. "And this means a lot for our program, too. You know, we're a five-year old program and we've got a kid who's going to play NCAA volleyball on a full-ride scholarship. That speaks volumes for her and what she's done in the last four years."
Bradley, who started Cave City's volleyball program from scratch, is also head coach for the Cavewomen softball team, and an assistant on the senior girls' basketball squad, has spent quite a bit of time with Roebuck the past four years.
"She's been integral to our softball and basketball programs also, and she's probably going to be our salutatorian, as well," Bradley said. "She's been one of those that I call a 'natural.' Whatever you ask her to do, she can do it. She's played shortstop and outfield and pitcher for me in softball and of course in basketball, she was our post player. She's grown so much (in height) the last few years. From her ninth-grade picture until now, you probably wouldn't recognize her. She had to go from a guard to a post player because she grew so much."
Roebuck was a key member of Cave City's basketball team that played for the Class 3A state championship last year.
Roebuck racked up 692 points, 523 kills, 150 aces, 160 blocks and 500 digs for Cave City on the volleyball court this season.
"She's really been dominant for me in volleyball the past two years," said Bradley. "I'm really going to miss her. I wish I had her back for another year, believe me."
Wrapping up her sports career at Cave City High School, Roebuck has set the bar for future Cavewomen in volleyball, recording 1,381 points, 322 aces, 1,038 kills, 305 blocks and over 1,000 digs during the past four years. She was also named to the All-Conference team three times during that span.
Roebuck's career highlights include a 42-point match, 33 kills in a match and 10 blocks in a match.
Pretty impressive stuff.
Golden Suns Head Coach Kristy Bayer plans on red-shirting Roebuck next season, giving her time to get acclimated to the speed and intensity of Gulf South volleyball. Arkansas Tech won Gulf South championships in 2008 and 2010.
"They're giving her a five-year scholarship," Bradley said. "And planning on her being ready to play her second year."
Before she packs up and heads off to Russellville, Roebuck has her sights on one more volleyball game at the high school level.
She was recently chosen to play for the East All-Stars at the Arkansas High School Coaches Association All-Star game, scheduled for June 21 at Barnhill Arena on the University of Arkansas campus.
That won't be the first time that Roebuck has battled against the best of the best in the state.
In early April, Roebuck played in the Queens of the Hardwood match at Valley View High School, a contest chock full of top-notch talent.
"She played with and against a bunch of state champions from the 4A, 5A, 6A (in the Queens match) and there was no drop-off in Rachel's play," Bradley said. "She was right there with them."