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HIGH SCHOOL VOLLEYBALL: Andreno to carry torch for ’Hawks
Brooke Point volleyball coach Terri Starliper almost never subbed for Jasmine Jones, so young Alyssa Andreno was understandably stunned last season when she was summoned to replace the star middle hitter.
“She said, ‘Jasmine?’ I said, ‘Yeah, Jasmine. Do you think you can do it?,’” Starliper said.
Andreno nodded her head and jumped right in. It was a significant moment in her development.
Blessed with all the physical talent to dominate on the volleyball court, the biggest thing missing for Andreno was confidence, and that game, that one substitution, did wonders for her.
“That was a big thing for her. ‘Hey, coach thinks I’m good enough to replace Jasmine,’ because no one subbed for her but Alyssa,” Starliper said of Andreno, who committed to Division I Tennessee this summer after playing the sport for only two years.
Andreno, a 6-foot-2 junior middle hitter, will be asked to be much more than an in-game substitution for Jones, now a freshman at Division I UNC Greensboro. Andreno has assumed Jones’ role on the team as a leader and big-time performer.
“We lost two players that people admired but, I think, feared a little bit more,” Starliper said of Jones and Desiree Claxton, who now plays at Division II East Stroudsburg. “With Alyssa, you have this player where they don’t really fear her. Her teammates want to go with her.
“They just really want to rally around her. I think they also recognize the powerhouse she is, and so they have to step up and they want to step up.”
The Black–Hawks expect to build on the success they had last year when they won the Conference 15 championship and made it to the 5A North Region quarterfinals.
Normally, that would be hard after losing players of the caliber of Jones and Claxton, but Brooke Point is hardly devoid of star power. Andreno has developed at a lighting-fast pace and is playing at a high level after an All-American club season with the Fredericksburg Juniors.
“Last year I definitely think was the point where I realized if I don’t get serious about this, I’m not going to amount to anything,” Andreno said. “Being on the team last year with Jasmine and Desiree, college players, definitely showed me the way to improve my game and start working out. You need to do these things or you’re not going to get there.”
Starliper describes Andre-no as a fierce competitor on the court but gentle off of it.
“You have the best kid possible leading this whole team,” Starliper said. “I wonder what she’s like when no one’s watching. What does she do? Because she’s so focused and works so hard when she’s here.”
Andreno gets along great with her teammates. She’s quick with a smile and has been known to take blame for breakdowns on the court that aren’t her fault.
“When she came here everybody knew she was good, and she hadn’t been playing that long,” said senior Brianna Gardner, who will serve as co-captain with Andreno this season. “She’s humble about it, so that’s the really interesting part about it. I think that’s what makes a very good player is not only her skills but her attitude and how they are on the court with other people, and that’s what’s great about her.”
Andreno says she pinches herself sometimes when she thinks about how far she has come on the volleyball court in such a short time.
Her first love was basketball, but her mother convinced her to go attend a local volleyball camp during the summer before her freshman year at Brooke Point.
Less than a week later, she was was participating in summer workouts with the Black–Hawks.
“We were impressed and knew right away she was going to be fabulous at volleyball,” Starliper said. “She had been at camp for only four days and had skills good enough to make varsity.”
“She came in slamming the ball, and I was like, ‘Man she must have been playing all her life,’” Gardner said.
Andreno showed a lot of progress in her first couple of years on Brooke Point’s varsity team, transforming from the sudden and sometimes awkward movements of basketball to the smoother and more fluid volleyball.
“She still needs polish,” Starliper said. “I think over the next two years, you’ll see her look more like a volleyball player.”
Andreno has no shortage of motivation. She wants to help lead the Black–Hawks to bigger things while working toward becoming a more complete player.
“I think every day is just a work in progress,” she said. “Every day you’re focusing on the small things to make yourself better.”
Nathan Warters: 540/374-5442