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Talented Wildcat volleyball players drawing national notice

Westminster Christian Academy’s talented sophomores Abby Siess and Avery Stanfill have gained national recognition for their volleyball skills.

Siess, an outside hitter from Wildwood, is on the American Volleyball Coaches Association Phenom List. For 2020, the Phenom Program will be held Dec. 17-19 in conjunction with the NCAA D-I National Championship and the AVCA Annual Convention in Omaha, Nebraska.

Abby Siess
Abby Siess

Participants and their parents will attend educational sessions, NCAA Division I Volleyball Championship matches, interact with AVCA Collegiate All-Americans, undergo Volleyball Performance Index testing, and participate in the AVCA Talent Showcase where more than 290 coaches will be in attendance.

Stanfill, a libero from St. Charles, recently was named to the Team USA A3 Girls Youth National Training Team Program. The USA A3 National Training Program is a high-level training program available to high potential volleyball players as an opportunity to advance in the National Team Pipeline.

Avery Stanfill
Avery Stanfill

Wildcats coach Bryndyn Crutcher said both girls are deserving of their accomplishments.

“I am very proud of Avery and Abby, but it doesn’t have much to do with any rewards or recognition they are receiving,” Crutcher said. “I appreciate their work ethic, attitudes, competitiveness and the fact that they are great teammates. We have a great young team, the bulk of which are sophomores, and I really enjoy watching how much they enjoy being together on and off the court.”

Social media led Siess, who also plays for the Rockwood Thunder, to discover that she had been chosen.

“I found out about being selected to the AVCA Phenom List through an Instagram post,” Siess said. “My club’s Instagram account posted a video of all of the Rockwood athletes that made the list, and there I was. I was beyond thrilled. It’s a very prestigious list and it was such an honor to be named.

“Learning from experienced coaches and All-American athletes can help push my game to the next level.”

Siess has been in a top training program before.

“Last year I was fortunate enough to be selected to the Team USA A1 Beach National Training Team Program in California, as well as their Holiday Program in December,” Siess said.

Crutcher said it’s great to have Siess get noticed for her play.

“The biggest significance is that Abby’s hard work, athletic ability, and love for the game of volleyball is catching the eye those in the volleyball world,” Crutcher said. “Hopefully, this recognition will both serve as an acknowledgment of the work Abby has already put in, and motivate her to continue pushing herself to grow in the sport of volleyball.”

Siess, who was a Metro League second team all conference player as a freshman, was selected to the Frosh 59 honorable mention list by PrepVolleyball.

Stanfill, a Metro League first team all conference player as a freshman, has been in a national training program before.

“I played in one of the USAV High Performance training programs in 2018. Then, I took a year off from it to go to some college volleyball camps,” Stanfill said. “When COVID-19 hit, I saw that you could submit game film as a tryout. I decided to do it, and I received an email a few months later that I was selected to be on the A3 team. I didn’t know what to expect with everyone doing video tryouts instead of in person, so when I found out that I made one of the teams, I was really excited.”

The first time she made a USAV HP team, Stanfill went to California University of Pennsylvania to train.

“Although we weren’t able to train in person this year, USA Volleyball organized webinars about the different aspects of the game,” Stanfill said. “They talked about different skills and important healthy habits as well. Anyone could sign up to watch these, but the people who made a team got to register first.

“The first time I went was a lot of fun because I got to train with highly skilled and motivated players from around the country. The webinars this year were interesting, too. Two of them were national team athlete Q & A sessions, so they answered common questions and other questions that people sent in.”

“Any athlete who is offered an opportunity in a national training program, is doing something right,” Crutcher said. “Avery’s play is being recognized and she is being offered opportunities to play with and against other elite volleyball athletes. Those opportunities are invaluable for the growth of young volleyball athletes.”

Crutcher is happy for this two young athletes.

“Abby and Avery do not only work hard on the court, but in the classroom as well,” Crutcher said. “Both are excellent students who challenge themselves with honors classes, and they both receive high marks. Avery and Abby are both model Westminster students and athletes. They represent our school and our student body well.

“Abby and Avery are good representatives of our team as a whole. I am thankful I have the opportunity to work with many great, young athletes this season, and I am excited to see what they will accomplish in the abbreviated season this year.”

The Wildcats tied for first last fall in the Metro League race. Overall, Westminster Christian Academy did not get out of the district tournament in postseason play. Both Siess and Stanfill played well as freshmen on the varsity team.

Siess was a starting outside hitter. She led the team in service aces with 33, was second on the team in digs with 160. She was third on the team in total kills with 100. Stanfill led the team in digs with 215 and she was second in aces with 20.

“Abby was also one of our primary serve receivers as well,” Crutcher said. “Avery was the starting Libero her freshman year. She is a very talented defensive player.”

It was a great experience for Siess.

“I absolutely loved my freshman season. There were 10 seniors on our team, and not only getting a spot as a freshman, but starting as well, was really exciting,” Siess said. “I met so many of my closest friends through the team and I’m grateful for every moment we got to spend on the court together, especially now that this year looks a little different than normal.”

Stanfill also was excited to earn a spot on the varsity as a freshman.

“With 10 seniors on the team last year and several returning defensive players, I wasn’t sure what to expect,” Stanfill said. “I went into tryouts focused on doing my best and working hard. I was excited when I found out that I made varsity because I had the opportunity to play at a high level with a wide range of ages. The upperclassmen were really supportive and encouraging to me and the other freshmen as well.”

The season just got under way for the Wildcats. It was frustrating not being able to play earlier and miss so many games.

“Not being able to play matches for the first half of our season was extremely disappointing,” Siess said. “I had been looking forward to playing and I had high expectations for our season, but the setback only made me work harder. I was so excited when I got the news that games could resume.”

Stanfill believes the Wildcats can be successful now that they can play.

“When we heard the announcement that we could start playing matches, the team went crazy. Everyone was super excited and ready to be back on the court competing against other teams,” Stanfill said. “I think that the Wildcats have the potential to be a really strong team this year. Not only do we have skill, but we also have good relationships within the team. We’re also a relatively young team because we only have two seniors this year and lots of sophomores, so I think the team has a bright future as well.”

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