After a season in which he proved his worth by playing multiple positions — in only his second season playing the sport — State College’s Andrew Groves capped his high school career by being named to the Pennsylvania Volleyball Coaches Association’s All-State team.
The 6-foot-5 senior setter and right-side hitter was the only player from District 6 named to the 40-player list for Class AAA.
He hadn’t even given the sport a try until last season, and it became apparent very quickly to the Little Lion coaches that they had to find a spot for the novice on the court.
“The development and his aptitude for the game, his court knowledge and understanding of the game, has happened in just two years,” coach Kim-Li Kimel said. “That’s nothing short of phenomenal. Then his athletic execution, it’s a pretty special situation. The kid as a junior became the starting setter.”
Groves realizes his growth has been rather speedy.
“It’s pretty amazing, I guess,” said Groves, who will study accounting this fall at Penn State and will try out for the club program on campus. “I wish I had started earlier, but I’m glad I could grow so far in so little time.”
He finished this past season with 283 kills, 366 assists, 203 digs, 36 blocks and 24 aces, helping the Little Lions to the District 6 Class AAA title and advancing to the PIAA quarterfinals. For his two-year career, he finished with 310 kills, 996 assists, 307 digs, 95.5 blocks and 49 aces.
He started as a middle blocker last season, but was moved to setter not long into the season, quarterbacking the offense.
“It took a lot of time last year, being younger, being new,” said Groves, who said it’s a split between setter and opposite which position he prefers. “I got a lot of help from my friends and from the coaches. This year I was able to understand a lot more and to build some chemistry.”
With his size and hitting ability, the coaches did what the could to not only take advantage of Groves’ skills as a hitter but also his ever-growing court knowledge. They switched to using a 6-2 offense, with Groves setting part time and someone else setting as well so Groves could take some swings.
“We noticed over time, seeing him in the gym playing pepper, that he could execute a lot of skills,” Kimel said. “He was a setter first as a junior, and an opposite second, but as a senior those skills were evenly-matched as his value grew. We needed him on both sides of the ball, both delivering the ball and hitting it.”