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(E) Sonja Percan - Volleyball serves up big hitters
By Nenad N. Bach | Published  07/28/2003 | Sports | Unrated
(E) Sonja Percan - Volleyball serves up big hitters


Sonja Percan - Volleyball serves up big hitters



(July 25, 2003) - AMHERST - Canandaigua’s Jen Albrecht and Victor’s Hannah Sharp play volleyball for rival high schools.

They play different positions. And they don’t play the game the same way.

One thing that Sharp and Albrecht do have in common is a promising future on the court. At least the Division I college programs that offered them full athletic scholarships think so.

"They both were heavily recruited (by colleges)," VolleyFX club team coach Rob Werkmeister said. "Jen is very athletic. She was recruited to play different positions. She jumps high and reaches high, about 10 feet, and the net is about 7-6."

"Hannah is very technically correct. The Louisville head coach (Leonid Yelin) said he could use her to teach players how to pass. She also has an innate ability to follow the ball, stay in the flow of the game."

With Albrecht and Sharp on opposite sides of the net, you have an interesting match.

Put the two Finger Lakes League All-Stars on the same side and you have a solid nucleus for an Empire State Games team.

The Louisville-bound Sharp, a libero or defensive specialist, and Albrecht, a middle hitter headed to Virginia Tech, lead the Western Region’s scholastic women into this year’s competition at the State University at Buffalo.

"We’ve been practicing for the gold," Sharp said. "I’ve experienced winning silver and it’s nothing like winning the gold."

"When I look at the two medals, there’s no comparison."

Western has won 16 of the 25 ESG gold medals awarded in the scholastic women’s division and is favored to take another. Albrecht and Sharp refused to pass up the chance, even though they no longer need to impress college scouts.

"I love volleyball," Albrecht said. "I live for the sport. In the summer, that’s all I do, it’s my job."

"We’re trying to be the best in the state, and that’s awesome. Western swept all (four) golds last year. We definitely want to do it again."

Albrecht and Sharp say their minds are made up when it comes to college.

They say their plan is to honor the non-binding, verbal commitments given to Virginia Tech and Louisville. Sharp will join arguably one of the top 10 programs in the nation once she heads off to Louisville, Ky.

Louisville setter Sarah Drury trained with the United States National Team for the Pan-American Games and 6-2 outside hitter Sonja Percan joined Croatia’s squad for a tournament this year.

How many college volleyball players and coaches are recognized at airports? That happens in Kentucky.

"The community really backs them, you can see it," Sharp said. "This year’s season tickets are sold out and there is a waiting list for next year."

"I’m still shocked they picked me out of so many girls. It’s so amazing."

Albrecht hopes she can help continue Virginia Tech’s improvement. The Hokies finished behind only national power Notre Dame in the Big East Conference last season.

Virginia Tech takes a step up in competition in 2004 when it joins the Atlantic Coast Conference.

"I come in right when they are changing," said Albrecht, who will move from middle to outside hitter in college. "In the Big East, I would’ve been able to play in front of my parents but the ACC is a better challenge."

"It’s OK, my parents don’t mind traveling. My coach (Greg Smith) says he’s going to have a live webcam for all of the games, so they can watch on-line too."

There was a chance that Albrecht and Sharp were going to be college, as well as club and Empire State Games teammates.

"They wanted me to be a setter," the 6-foot Albrecht said. "They said they saw me in warm-ups and that I was a natural, but I can’t set."

"I’d rather hit."

Albrecht would also like to get the best of Sharp when Victor and Canandaigua meet this fall.

Victor has a string of Finger Lakes East titles, in part, because the Blue Devils are able to beat Canandaigua. The Blue Devils were unbeaten in league matches last season and finished third in the state.

"I’m always pushing myself," Albrecht said. "(Sharp) is a smart player. She doesn’t always try to hit the ball as hard as she can, she’ll roll it to the corner and use tips to get it to a better spot. She’s consistent and gives great passes to hit, too, but I don’t like playing against her though."


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