Setting Up For Success

  • By Alyssa Casalino
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  • September 19, 2012 04:08 PM
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When a student-athlete begins his or her career at West Virginia University, WVUsports.com gives readers some general background information on how that athlete performed in high school. It shows personal and team accomplishments prior to college and once he or she finishes that first year, the list grows.

If you’re on the volleyball page, you’ll probably find Brittany Sample’s impressive stat sheet. You might do a double-take once you realize her long list of accomplishments is only from high school.

Sample graduated from Hebron High in Carrollton, Texas, this past December to start her WVU career a bit earlier, and quite a bit of recognition came along with the name. AVCA Under Armour, Prepvolleyball.com and Lonestarvolleyball.com are just a few of the programs that honored her volleyball talent.

The Lewisville, Texas, native began her high school career at Brandeis High where she was a two-year letterwinner. Since then, she’s played on club teams and in multiple tournaments. Her mother taught her the basics of volleyball at age 10 and she began playing on her first club team when she was 11. She started off as a setter and remains in that position today.

“The setter basically runs the plays,” Sample explained. “It’s the middleman between the passers, the defense and the hitters. You have to make sure you get the best ball so that your team can score.”

Coming to college early and having a huge responsibility on your shoulders could easily intimidate some students. Sample, however, knew that she was right for the job.

“I’ve been setting for a long time, that’s the first thing I learned to do. There was definitely that pressure of coming in early and being the setter, but that’s what I know how to do. It’s fun for me and it’s my job.”

Sample said that her decision to leave high school early was simple. She was ready to compete at the next level of and wanted to experience new surroundings. There were three main factors that sealed the deal in choosing West Virginia: a change of scenery, engineering and Jill Kramer.

“West Virginia and Texas are a lot different, but I think Morgantown is just gorgeous,” Sample said. “Coming in the winter was rough. I just threw myself into the cold and it was a big adjustment, but I feel like it was a great decision for me and I have no regrets about that.”

Originally, Sample wanted to be an architect, but she realized that lifestyle along with playing a sport at a Division I school would be difficult. She discussed her options with others and found an interest in civil engineering.

“Civil engineering is probably as close as I can get to what I have in mind, and this is one of the top schools in the country for that. The program is incredible, and it made my decision to come here even easier. I’m thinking about switching to industrial engineering, but I just know altogether I’m in the right place for what I want to do.”

Last but not least, Mountaineer coach Jill Kramer was the No. 1 reason Sample moved 19 hours away from the Lone Star State.

“If you asked any of the other girls (on the volleyball team) why they chose to come play for WVU, I guarantee you they’d all say the same thing,” Sample said about Coach Kramer. “Our coach is amazing.”

Sample has found it easy to adjust to the life of a college student so far away from home. She thinks coming here early really helped her to settle into school. It helped her to adjust to Coach Kramer’s coaching style as well.

This year, the volleyball team is made up of young players. Including Sample, there are seven freshmen and two transfer students on the roster, with just three returners. It’s a learning experience, but Sample believes everyone is more comfortable because they’re on the same page. The upper classman continue to help the freshman to feel a part of the team.

“My teammates did a great job of welcoming me. They were super helpful with everything, not only volleyball,” Sample said. “They showed me how to get around and everything. There was never any exclusion; they really helped all of the younger girls and we never felt like we were left out.”

This meant a lot to Sample, as she is dedicated to being a team player. Although she has been recognized many times for her solo achievements, she said that none of those awards compared to winning a championship with her team back in high school.

“During my junior year, my team won the state championship and it was probably my favorite achievement,” she said. “That moment is just so unforgettable for me. Texas 5-A volleyball is huge, so my team winning that championship was definitely one of the best moments ever.”

“I can’t think of any personal award that I’ve received that was better than that.”

Sample said that coming to WVU on her birthday this year (January 3) was one of the best decisions she’s made. It seems clear that her team is more than pleased with her decision as well. She’s made a big impact over the short period of time that she’s been a setter and she’s hoping to improve as time goes on.

The WVU volleyball team finished in first place in the Gold and Blue Classic this past weekend. The next match is set for September 22 against TCU.