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IU women’s basketball star returns for fifth year -- as a volleyball player

Whitney Thomas will return to play for a fifth year at IU -- but this semester, the women's basketball star will trade hoops for volleyball, said Indiana head volleyball coach Sherry Dunbar.

Thomas is taking advantage of an NCAA rule that offers student-athletes a fifth year of eligibility to play one season of a different sport.

"I'm sure a lot of Hoosier fans are going to be thrilled to see Whitney Thomas still in an Indiana uniform for one more season," said Dunbar. "As evidenced over the past four years, Whitney brings leadership, experience, work ethic and athletic ability to our program and will be a great addition to our team."

"It's a great opportunity to play volleyball at IU, and I am really excited about it," said Thomas, who will play as a right-side hitter for the volleyball team. "It's been awhile since I've played competitively, but I'm ready to get back at it."

Whitney Thomas

Whitney Thomas

Thomas comes from an athletic family. The 6-foot student's brother, Kyle, was an offensive lineman for the Hoosier football team, graduating in May 2008 with a degree in criminal justice.

Whitney Thomas had one of the most successful careers in Indiana women's basketball history. The Bloomington native became just the second player in school history to reach 1,000 career points and rebounds. She was also the only player to ever hit the double millennium mark while compiling 200 steals, and her 237 career swipes rank second all-time in IU lore.

Thomas graduated from IU in May with a degree in exercise science and is pursuing a master's degree in applied sport science this fall.

As a two-sport standout at Bloomington North High School, Thomas was heavily recruited by several prestigious volleyball programs before she chose to attend IU and play basketball for the Hoosiers. Now, she's re-training herself and her reactions on the volleyball court.

"The girls have already been helping me get better," said Thomas. "It's completely different from basketball. I'm going to have to make some adjustments."

The IU women's volleyball team won all three matches in late August at a pre-season tournament in Houston. The Hoosiers hosted the IU Adidas Classic Labor Day weekend in Bloomington, and the team will make several appearances on national television this year, starting Sept. 30 with an away game at Purdue. The Nov. 4 game against Purdue -- for the Monon Spike, sister trophy of the Oaken Bucket -- will take place at IU Bloomington and will be televised on the Big Ten Network.

For the second consecutive year, IU volleyball matches will be broadcast at