All-Empire small-school volleyball: Andrews' well-rounded excellence

By PHIL BARBER
THE PRESS DEMOCRAT

Rincon Valley Christian coach Saundra Flohr never doubted that Hannah Andrews would be a dominant offensive player this season. Rising above the competition at 6-foot-2, Andrews is the unstoppable force of the NCL II.

“She can hit the ball straight down,” Flohr said. “She’s got those arms that go straight over the net.”

What surprised the coach when she assembled her team this summer was Andrews’ defense. The junior had been playing a lot of club ball — she has been with the Empire team since she was 14 — and the difference was marked. Flohr started Andrews in the back row this year, and she wound up with the second-highest passing percentage on the team.

“During club, I had to work on defense a lot more,” Andrews said. “They try to make you more well-rounded.”

With Andrews digging out serves and spiking balls into the hardwood — Flohr said she had 10 to 18 kills most games — and with senior libero Kelly Steliga seemingly covering the entire court, the Eagles went 22-7, captured the league championship, gained the No. 1 seed in the North Coast Section Division 6 playoffs and fell one game short of a section title when they lost to Anderson Valley in a rugged five-set match in the final.

Certainly, any conversation of Andrews as a volleyball player starts with her height. But a lot of 6-footers aren’t able to dominate the game. Andrews’ work ethic and understanding of the court set her apart.

“If something isn’t going well, I can say, ‘That’s not working. Hit it to this place instead.’ And she can do it,” Flohr said.

Andrews gets to test herself against elite competition in club ball, but she relishes her high school volleyball, too. Home-schooled (she’s on the RVC campus one day a week), she appreciates how the sport gives her a chance to form bonds with other students, and to bring pride to little Rincon Valley.

“I just want to help the people who are coming after me,” Andrews said. “I want to make sure I work as hard as I can, and get the team to be as good as it can be.”

The people coming after her include her younger sisters, currently in ninth grade and seventh grade. Both play volleyball. Yep, the Andrews Sisters could wind up being quite a dynasty for the Eagles.

2011 ALL-EMPIRE SMALL-SCHOOL VOLLEYBALL
Player Of The Year: Hannah Andrews, Rincon Valley Christian, junior

FIRST TEAM
Jessica Asbury, Clear Lake, senior
Callie Flood, St. Helena, senior
Mirla Gaxiola, Anderson Valley, junior
Karina Perez, Anderson Valley, junior
Caroline Praetzel, Sonoma Academy, sophomore
Morgan Psalmonds, Clear Lake, junior

SECOND TEAM
Samantha Carranza, Roseland Prep, junior
Marianna Cooper, Mendocino, junior
Adrina Miller, Lower Lake, junior
Paige Preston, St. Helena, junior
Kelly Steliga, Rincon Valley Christian, senior
Sarah Tarrant, St. Vincent de Paul, senior

Coach of the year: Teri Scott, St. Vincent de Paul

You can reach Staff Writer Phil Barber at 521-5268 or phil.barber@ pressdemocrat.com.