Hey there Coach! Love your website, it is a breath of fresh air to a Volleyball Dad trying to help his kid through the processes.
I have a unique (or maybe not so unique) question for you. My daughter is 16 years old and is a starting Middle for her club travel Volleyball team, a team Captain and a starting middle for her HS team as well. She is 5'11 1/2" bare foot and about 6'1"ish with her playing shoes. She loves the sport and has excelled in it so far.
The issue is, she is about to be a senior next year, because when I was on active duty, she had to be moved ahead a grade, while we were stationed in Hawaii. So, she is basically playing "up" a year all the way into college. We have discussed her taking a year after high school and staying at home and playing he 18's year at the club level for exposure and experience, but I'm not sure that is the right answer. Her approach jump is around 9'8" and she is extremely mature for her age as well.
My question is basically, what advice to have for her to overcome the age and lost year of development "handicap" she is stuck with?
Athletes which play up a year in an effort to compete at their graduation year, can be at a skill development, and thus, a recruiting disadvantage. College playing opportunities are a result of current talent and projected abilities; athlete which are young for their graduation years often are short on current talent but long on projected abilities. The issue is that many DI coaches/programs today want that 'projected ability' to come to fruition sooner rather than later!
I suggest you review two areas before making a decision about her age group playing level:
1) How physically mature is your daughter? Some kids are still gawky and gangly at 18, while others already look/move like adults. The more physically mature your daughter, the more success she will have at the collegiate playing level being 'young'.
2) How emotionally mature is your daughter? The collegiate emotional impact upon a 17 year old kid versus an 18 year old kid can be significant. If she is not ready to mentally digest and manage the life of a collegiate athlete at 17 (which many players are not!), then she needs to wait. College volleyball/athletics is such a small window of opportunity, and because of the business like nature of coaches/departments, this window can be fragile.
Consider where she stands currently in the college volleyball recruiting process - The nice thing is that you have 2 'years' to garner her college spot! If you are not happy with the quality/quantity of schools she is interacting with as a 2015, then you can always 'reboot' the process for her to enter with the 2016 class which may hold a variety of options.
Good luck and follow your instinct; our inner voice is seldom wrong!
Other than increasing the physical training demands (which I don't recommend) or drastically increasing the amount of gym time playing/practicing volleyball (which I don't recommend), there is little she can do to overcome this year behind challenge with being a volleyball player.
Concentrate on managing the recruiting process per your daughter's characteristics and desires.