The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

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March 30, 2013

Brown named All-American

Greenbrier East sophomore always trying to improve on her volleyball skills

— The honors haven’t stopped at Class AAA first-team all-state for Greenbrier East hitter Abby Brown.

She’s now an All-American.

Brown not only is one of 18 sophomores recently named to MaxPrep’s Underclassmen All-America team, but she also has been selected to prepvolleyball.com’s Soph79 first team.

She is the only West Virginian chosen to the MaxPrep team. The popular sports site does not choose second and third teams. Prepvolleyball.com does.

“That’s quite an honor,” said Brown, one of the finest hitters in West Virginia, despite standing just 5-foot-8. “It was a long shot, but I’m happy I made the team.”

Coach Matt Sauvage wasn’t surprised at all. Brown performed on a level far above most 10th graders as she led the Spartans to a 42-11-3 record and a berth in the state tournament in November.

“It’s well-deserved. She’s one of the best players in the state, and now she’s getting recognition nationally,” he said. “That’s hard to do in West Virginia.”

Brown had terrific stats — 550 kills, 78 aces in 355 serves, 343 digs and 585 serve receptions.

Most top hitters are 6-footers, but Brown easily makes up for any size disadvantage.

“Abby can jump really high — she honestly can get out of the gym,” Sauvage said. “But it’s more than that. It’s her knowledge of the game. She knows what to do and when to do it, both hitting and reading other hitters, and that’s what sets her apart from the rest of the crowd.

“It comes so easy for her. Then her skills shine through. She’s in position, doing things, before other people are.”

Brown hasn’t been resting on past performances. She gave up basketball to concentrate on passing and gaining strength.

“She played on the varsity as a freshman, when they won the state championship, but she decided this year she needed to work on weight lifting,” Sauvage said. “It was her doing. I tried to convince her to play basketball, but she wanted to get into the weight room.”

While she missed playing hoops, Brown is sure she made the right decision.

“Being able to focus on my core strength beats basketball,” she said. “It was sad — some parts of basketball I missed, others I didn’t — but I’ve already seen a big improvement in my leg muscles and shoulder strength, which helps with my torque and my hitting power.”

This spring she’s both running track for East and playing club volleyball.

Wisely, she’s spending as much time on receiving serves and passing as she is her hitting.

“I love hitting, but when I work up to college, I’ll probably be a defensive player,” she said. “I will be at a disadvantage because of my height.

“Next season, my team will need both my offense and defense, but I need to focus on defense for college.”

Sauvage said Brown is already drawing looks from several D-I schools.

— E-mail: dstillwell

@register-herald.com

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