County's Volleyball All-Stars Get the Spotlight
DALTON, Mass. -- Lee High senior Liz Brown has played a lot of volleyball, so there is not much that happens on the court that she does not see coming.
But she did not see this coming.
“It was a surprise,” Brown said after being named the county’s Most Valuable Player for 2021. “They were reading off the numbers [before identifying who the stats belonged to], and I was like, ‘Hmm … ’ “
Those numbers made clear why Brown was deserving of the honor: 729 kills, 585 digs and 131 aces. This fall, she led the Wildcats to a Western Massachusetts regional tournament championship and the No. 4 seed in the Division 5 State Tournament.
From her standpoint, she shared the MVP honor with a lot of folks.
“I’m really proud of how so many of the players around me have helped me out,” Brown said. “And the coaches have taught me everything I know. I really appreciate it, and all my thanks go to them.”
Brown’s high school coach, Julia Warner, was on the sideline Monday coaching Brown and the rest of the Gray squad in the inaugural All-Berkshire Showcase at Wahconah Regional High School.
Teams of players from all eight of the county’s teams battled for four entertaining sets before an appreciative crowd of family and friends.
For the record, Warner’s Gray team took three sets from the Teal, coached by Mount Greylock coach Greg Geyer.
But in the tight-knit local volleyball community, where many of the elite players train together with the AVA Volleyball Club, the scores were less significant than the smiles.
“It just shows all the accomplishments and how far all of us have come,” Brown said. “Being noticed by the coaches who selected us was really great.”
Wahconah coach Dave Lussier said those coaches have been talking for a few years about putting a season-ending event together. And when the Berkshire County League broke up in favor of a merger with the Pioneer Valley Interscholastic Athletic Association, the time was definitely right.
“This year, having all our teams split into different leagues within the Pioneer Valley, it became kind of important for us to keep some kind of stamp on Berkshire volleyball,” Lussier said.
Lussier said that he expects the tradition to continue even as the schools move further and further away from the days when they battled one another for league supremacy.
“We keep in touch enough right now, and with a lot of the kids on all the teams playing AVA volleyball in the wintertime, we kind of keep in touch with who’s who on different teams even though we’re not playing against them,” he said.
“Mostly, we’ll rely on the coaches to pick out who they want from their teams to be highlighted and showcase for our all-star event at the end of the year.”
Nearly a dozen county players will have a chance for one more all-star appearance on Tuesday when they compete in the International Volleyball Hall of Fame Girls All-Star Showcase at Longmeadow High School.
Those honorees include: Lee’s Brown, Kylie Joyce and Rachel Wendling; Lenox’s Mia Giardina; Monument Mountain’s Brianna Ayala; Mount Greylock’s Charlotte Coody, Takiera Darrow and Celina Savage; Pittsfield’s Maggie Burke; and Wahconah’s Olivia Wehner and Sasha Fyfe.
Players selected to participate in Monday’s All-Berkshire Showcase:
Rachel Wendling, senior; Madison LaRock, senior; Liz Brown, senior; Kylie Joyce, senior.
Kelsey Kirchner, first-year; Mia Giardina, senior; Kailyn Sorrentino, senior.
Ava Barenski, senior; Mia Wade, senior; Cate Consolati, senior; Brianna Ayala, senior.
Kelly Krom, first-year; Nadia Makuc, senior; Caroline Haiss, junior.
Celina Savage, sophomore; Tessa Leveque, senior; Takiera Darrow, senior; Charlotte Coody, first-year.
Brigette Marcil, senior; Maggie Burke, senior; Hailey Rumlow, sophomore.
Ciana Bennett, junior; Ruby Robertson, junior; Natalia Dos Santos, sophomore; Brenna McNeice, junior.
Sasha Fyfe, sophomore; Olivia Wehner, senior; McKenzie LaBier, junior.