There are good high school athletes who enter a program, work hard and leave a positive legacy, and then there are athletes who enter a program, outwork and outperform the rest and transform a program.

Samantha Slaughter is the latter.

"She's one of those 'once in a lifetime' players," said Harrisburg Volleyball Head Coach Ronette Costain.

Slaughter, a 6-foot-1-inch senior outside hitter from Harrisburg High School, is this week's Athlete of the Week.

You've likely heard her name before, and don't be surprised if you continue to hear it well into the next few years.

Slaughter's legacy at Harrisburg is arguably unmatched and unparalleled. Few Harrisburg volleyball players can even begin to approach the accomplishments she racked up this year and during her Tiger career.

Look at her 2016-17 season alone: Class AA state champion, Class AA First Team All-State and Gatorade South Dakota Volleyball Player of the Year. And that's just the beginning.

Slaughter's greatest athletic talents fall on the volleyball court, but there was a time when Slaughter thought it would be basketball, not volleyball, that would play a role in her future.

"I was really drawn to basketball because all my brothers played it, and so did my dad," Slaughter said. "So right when I hit high school, I thought I was going to play basketball.

And while Slaughter played and still does basketball at Harrisburg, her mom, who played volleyball in high school and college, never gave up on Slaughter. That perseverance is paying off today.

"After every volleyball game, my mom would always help point out what I've been doing wrong and doing right," Slaughter said.

Based on the success of her career, especially during the 2016-17 season, it should come with little surprise that this past season was one of Slaughter's favorites.

The compassionate and determined hitter has done wonders for Harrisburg volleyball.

"Sam means the world to me," Costain said. "As a person, you're not going to find a more fun, naturally gifted athlete like Sam. She's a great leader, grounded, has great morals and we're going to miss the heck out of her."

Several Midwestern colleges and universities saw those same characteristics and attributes.

Originally committed to Creighton University, Slaughter decommitted, wanting to play more as an outside hitter. That's when the University of Nebraska-Lincoln came calling, and the rest was history.

"I grew up in Nebraska, so all I really watched for volleyball was Nebraska," Slaughter said. "That was like my dream school all along, and they weren't in the picture at first, but once they came into the picture it was all eyes on them."

With the backing of Tiger Nation, the future is bright for Slaughter.

"I don't know that there is a ceiling for Sam, and if there is, she's going to break through it," Costain said. "I think she's going to shine for Nebraska and be a 'top dog' there down the line"

Congratulations to Samantha Slaughter, this week's Athlete of the Week.

South Dakota Public Broadcasting