Halle Thompson's quick connection with coach nets Wisconsin volleyball big recruiting win in Texas (2024)

Mark StewartMilwaukee Journal Sentinel

MADISON – Halle Thompson’s strategy for what was sure to be a busy recruiting weekend was rooted in authenticity.

“I like to crack some jokes and keep things pretty light-hearted," she said. "I would say the strategy for me was to be comfortable, be myself and see what comes out of that and that is exactly what I did.”

By now Wisconsin volleyball fans know that Thompson, a 6-foot-1 outside hitter from Grand Oaks High School in Spring, Texas, and the Houston Skyline club program, committed to the Badgers' 2026 class last week. She is the No. 2 prospect in the nation for the class, according to PrepDig and PrepVolleyball.

Thompson found the connect she sought with UW coach Kelly Sheffield and assistant Brittany Dildine, but what sealed the deal was an impromptu tour of campus last Monday that Thompson saw through the lens of Sheffield’s phone.

It was a personal touch that resonated with Thompson.

“He didn’t just put up a PowerPoint of the slides of them looking the best and the photos taken by the photographers, he showed me what it looked like that day and it was beautiful," Thompson said. “I didn’t post my commitment until (Thursday) because frankly I didn’t have a shirt. It’s a lot harder to get a Wisconsin shirt in Texas than you would think.”

Thompson was the fourth player to commit to UW’s 2026 class. The group includes Kymora Scott, a 6-2 middle hitter/right-side hitter, 6-5 middle hitter Lynney Tarnow and 6-2 outside hitter Audrey Flanagan.

Thompson spoke to the Journal Sentinel last week about her commitment, hitting on the strengths of her game, the influence of her older sister and her relationship with fellow recruits Flanagan and Tarnow.

Halle Thompson’s commitment is rare foray for Badgers in Lone Star state

In the 41 seasons of Wisconsin volleyball, there has been just one other Texan to suit up for the program: Shanel Bramschreiber, who competed as a graduate transfer in 2022.

In order to get a commitment from Thompson, UW had beat out two-time defending national champion Texas, among other powerhouse programs. The connection she built with the coaching staff as well as the Badgers’ run of success – they’ve been to the Final Four four times in the past five season years – played key roles. So did the confidence to simply not care what other’s thought of her decision.

“It’s a hard decision,” she said. “No matter where you going, you’re going to make sacrifices, but I don’t think any sacrifices were made in this decision. I think this is the best decision for me.”

Halle Thompson helped No. 2 ranked team in nation win state title

Grand Oaks finished 50-1 and won the 6A state championship last fall. The team finished No. 2 in MaxPreps' nationwide ranking. According to MaxPreps, Thompson finished with a team-high 525 kills, an average of 4.1 per set, with a .294 hitting percentage. She also led the squad in aces, ranked third in digs and second in serve receive.

At the state tournament she hit .390 with averages of 14.5 kills, 12.5 digs and 2.5 assists per match in the semifinals and finals.

That all-around game is what she believes she can bring to UW. She also said Sheffield liked her approach to the game.

“Not how many points I score or how many blocks I get or how many kills I get, that’s not what they were really complimentary on,” she said. “It was on how I play, my attitude and how I hold myself and how I am with my teammates. That is something they thought set me apart.”

More: Committing to Wisconsin volleyball is a dream come true for 2026 recruit Lynney Tarnow

Halle Thompson adds national team flare to Wisconsin’s class

Thompson knows Tarnow from their time together in the USA volleyball national team development program. Flanagan is also part of that program, but she and Thompson have built a closer friendship thanks to their time preparing for the U19 Continental Championship on July 12-20 in Honduras.

The two were roommates at the latest training session for the team.

“Like top and bottom bunk, so we got to know each other a lot,” Thompson said. “It’s so cool to know that a week and a half ago I was sharing a bunk bed with someone I’ll be going to school with for four years. That is something I’m really excited about. I’d say me and Audrey are really close and she’s amazing person, super funny. I think we’re going to really get a long and have a lot of fun there.”

Athleticism runs in Thompson’s family

Thompson is the second child in her family to get a Division I scholarship and she might not be the last. Her sister, Fallon, is a rising junior volleyball player at Gonzaga. Her twin brother, Cullen, is drawing DI interest for football.

The experience Thompson's sister overcame at Gonzaga serves as motivation. Fallon Thompson endured a coaching change and was buried on the bench as a freshman, but after a position change, she emerged as one of the team’s top middle blockers last season.

Fallon's perseverance has served an inspiration and reminder for her sister.

“That was really discouraging and not something that was expected either, so definitely being ready for the unexpected and being ready to work (is important),” Thompson said. “She didn’t play, but she didn’t let that get to her. She worked and worked and now she’s a middle … She put in the work and her results came.”

More: 'I'm going to shock a lot of people': Underdog status motivates Wisconsin volleyball recruit Kymora Scott

Halle Thompson's quick connection with coach nets Wisconsin volleyball big recruiting win in Texas (2024)

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