It felt like home, only they were roughly 1,300 miles away from Grand Island.
Isaac Traudt was putting up shots over Labor Day weekend in a gym on the campus of the University of Virginia in Charlottesville. His younger sister Tia was under the basket, grabbing rebounds for big bro.
Just like in the driveway at home.
Isaac is getting ready for his first season with one of the top basketball programs in the country. His chapter – a very illustrious one – at Grand Island is now closed. Now Tia is writing her own story at GI, and it’s already a page-turner.
She’s a 6-foot outside hitter who has emerged as one of the state’s top volleyball players. With interest from many Division I programs – and a summer invitation to Nebraska’s Dream Team Camp – Tia is also one of the region’s sought-after recruits.
Following Isaac’s lead
She’s only a sophomore, but after watching her brother follow a similar recruiting trajectory, Tia is taking the attention in stride.
“It’s obviously a hard process and very nerve-wracking trying to make that decision,” Tia said of what she learned from Isaac’s recruitment. “Being grateful for what you get, whatever it may be, and don’t take it for granted.”
For now, Tia is having fun with a sport she began playing at the YMCA. She was coached by her mom Christy, who played at Nebraska-Kearney in the 1990s.
One of Tia’s goals is to help mold a Grand Island program that was in a rough spot. The Islanders were 3-25 in 2019 and 2-24 in 2020 before going 17-14 during Tia’s freshman season. The program’s first winning season since 2016 was a shot in the arm.
A calm and powerful hitter, Tia can record kills from various angles and spots.
“If you just get the ball in her vicinity, she’s going to do some damage with it,” Grand Island coach Marcus Ehrke says.
Ehrke said he immediately saw Tia’s potential during open-gym sessions prior to her freshman season.
“A lot of times as a coach you can see who has the ‘it’ factor and who has the athleticism and potential to be something pretty great,” Ehrke said. “I could tell right away she had something special that was different from other people.”
College began to take notice, too.
Playing a year up, Tia was on the VCN (Volleyball Club Nebraska) 15s team that won a national championship two summers ago. There were around 200 teams in the field and the deeper VCN got in the tournament, the more eyeballs the players drew.
“That’s when I started to get some questionnaires and things,” Tia said. “Yeah, that was a really cool experience to win nationals.”
Tia followed with a strong freshman season at Grand Island. She had 355 kills (4.1 per set), 315 digs, 25 aces and 20 blocks as a six-rotation player. Through 13 matches this season, Tia is averaging 4.9 kills per set, which ranks second among all sophomores. She had a 24-kill performance (in a three-set sweep) Thursday against Kearney.
Attending Dream Team Camp
Last summer, Tia got the chance to showcase her skills at Nebraska’s prestigious Dream Team Camp. The event featured many of the country’s top 2025 and 2026 prospects (only 24 were invited), many of them high on John Cook’s radar.
Tia remembers getting an invitation prior to a club tournament. The invite was sent to the VCN coaches from Nebraska assistant coach and recruiting coordinator Jaylen Reyes.
“It just boosted my confidence a lot before that tournament,” Tia said. “It was just really cool how he wanted it to be hand-given to me instead of over email of text.
“I thought that there would be quite a bit more girls older than me, but they were mostly my age and they were very skilled. But it was good to see where I lined up.”
Competing in the Traudt house
When it came to sports, Tia and Isaac had one rule to follow in the Traudt household – play multiple sports. For Tia, it was basketball, softball and volleyball.
“Our thing has been you play all those sports so you learn your successes, you learn your struggles and you have respect for both, and when you get to high school, you choose,” said Brandon, Tia’s father. “Both of them (Isaac and Tia) quickly decided, ‘Yeah, we kind of know what we want.’”
Isaac became one of the state’s top basketball players while at Grand Island. He averaged 16.7 points as a sophomore, 25.3 as a junior and 23.1 as a senior. The 2022 Nebraska Gatorade Player of the Year received heavy interest from Gonzaga, North Carolina, Kansas, Creighton, Nebraska and others.
The deeper Isaac got into the recruiting process, the more Tia wanted to play college volleyball.
“I think that mostly came later especially when Isaac had started getting looks, I was thinking that could be a possibility for me,” Tia said. “I started having more goals like that and training harder and realizing that I can maybe get there with a program like VCN.”
Isaac and Tia, the only siblings in the family, are super close, Brandon said. Though they thrive in different sports, there is one family activity that can go one way or the other.
“We have a ping-pong table downstairs and those two for the last three or four years have gone at it,” Brandon said. “Isaac was much better at first and now Tia kicks his tail around a little bit.
“They’re competitive in a fun way, they’ll kind of talk trash a little bit, but it’s arm around (each other) and kind of an encouraging thing, too, so it’s been fun to see as a parent.”
‘My own platform’
At 6-foot-10, Isaac can cast quite a shadow literally and figuratively. He left a big mark in the same gym that Tia is currently slamming kills in.
Tia said she is still known as Isaac’s little sister. If her first two seasons are any indication, she’ll shed that label soon.
“I’ve been known for that (Isaac’s little sister) for a long time, but I don’t really mind it because I like him,” Tia said. “I think it’d be really cool, obviously …. to have my own platform and show people that I can hopefully play at a high level.”