When you commit to playing college volleyball you have to commit to other decisions as well to achieve your goals on the court. There are a lot of differences when you advance to the next level and it is not just an increase in talent, ability, and hard work.
Here are some of the biggest differences between high school or club volleyball and volleyball at the collegiate level:
In high school you're used to going to school for seven to eight hours, volleyball practice, and then home for homework. But when you get to college you're schedule is going to be a little more hectic and will change semester by semester. Depending on the college you attend you might have a work out session in the morning or practice in the morning, followed by classes throughout the day, practice or a work out session later, film, and then much needed time for a library session for homework. This schedule can also change week to week, depending on the game schedule or coach's schedule.
In high school you were probably one of the better players on your high school team and when you get to college you are surrounded by people who were also the better players on their high school team. Depending on the depth of your position and the level of play at the college you attend, there might be up to 4-7 people in you're position all pursuing one spot on the court. If you earn a position on the court, there's people on your team who want to take your spot. Learning how to have friendly competition with your teammates is very important and will strengthen everyone's skills as you compete with each other.
Not only are there going to be great players around you in college, every year your coach will be recruiting players that are better than you and the other players already on the team. As you gain experience your volleyball IQ grows, which is an advantage other less experienced players, and yet you will still have to work very hard to continue to earn a playing spot on the team.
The Amount of Travel
The bus trips in high school probably weren't very far, but when you advance to college your trips to the away games will cause disruptions to your schedule. Depending on the level and college you go to a two or four hour bus trip or plane trip will impact your academics and attendance at school much more frequently than high school. Learning how to manage travel and academics is a must, but many college programs have great resources like tutors, mandated study hall times, teachers assistants, and academic advisors that will enable you to thrive at your academics.
The Pace of the Game
While competition is high at college, so increases the pace of the game as well. Listening to your coaching staff is huge as they coach you into progressing into the world of college volleyball. The game is faster, played harder, and instead of reacting you will need to learn how to read the game better in order to succeed in college. Many college players will also be bigger and stronger than the high school opponents you faced and so the time spent in the weight room is also key for your improvement on the court.
Not only does the pace of the game change, so does the practices. Practices will be harder, more intense, and every day you will be competing either to get a spot or to continue to deserve the spot that you have earned. Your coaching staff will be larger as well and so the ability to practice many individual and position-focused drills will be utilized to focus on many of the specifics of the game.
Your College Team is Your Family
One of the best differences from advancing to college volleyball is that the girls on your team become your family. You have an instant group of friends who will support you, and if they do not then your coach and culture have some work to do. During college you will spend so much time with your teammates: rooming together, eating together, studying together, playing together, working out together, and sometimes even spending holidays together. Your college teammates become more than your friends, and you will more than likely form friendship bonds for life with some of the girls on your team.