St. James Academy (Lenexa, Kan.) girls volleyball coach Nancy Dorsey recalls a strategy opposing teams employed this season against 6-foot-6 Stanford-bound middle blocker Audriana Fitzmorris.
Everybody we played served to her because she was tall, she said. People see someone who is 6’6″ and automatically think theyre tall and slow.
Real bad move.
Fitzmorris, the 2015 Volleyball Girls High School Player of the Year, displayed an all-around game this season that included major advancements on the defensive end (she had 259 digs). It also didnt hurt that she blasted home 639 kills and hit .548 (only 56 hitting errors on 1,063 swings) in helping the 46-1 Thunder win a third state title in four years.
She had huge games this year where I remember her most for her defense, said Dorsey, whose 2013 state-championship squad was the Volleyball Girls High School Team of the Year. (St. James has won seven state crowns in the last eight years.) What impresses me the most is the focus she has on being a complete player. She’s so gifted. I have no doubt she will be a six-rotation player in college. She’s only going to get stronger.
Fitzmorris, who hit .600 or above in 23 matches (and had 11 matches of .700 or above and four north of .800), agreed that her passing and defensive skills made major strides over the last year, but she also pointed to her improvement as a leader as being equally important.
Im a senior on the team and I really tried to step it up and put myself in a position to help my teammates get better, she said. I went to work with that goal in mind every day. I really like being a leader. It challenges me to always work on different skills that will be useful to me outside volleyball as well.
St. James setter Jenna Gray, who joins Fitzmorris on the 2015 Volleyball Girls High School All-American First Team and will head west to Stanford with her, marvels at how Fitzmorris never lets up on the intensity front.
I love her drive for the game, said Gray, who won three state titles at St. James with Fitzmorris. She always is looking to get better, even though she’s already incredibly good. She strives to be the best no matter what. She’s been so versatile. She wants to be great in everything. She can play back row, outside, right side, and middle and can dominate at every position. It’s been nice having her on the team the past four years. She is someone I trust who will put it down every time.
Fitzmorris, who had 39 kills and hit .686 in a five-set win in against Sacred Heart Academy (Louisville, Ky.) at the beginning of the 2015 season, downplayed the recognition she has received. She said what she has accomplished required assistance from many other key people. All the recognition is great and I appreciate it, but I think it’s a testament to all the people who have helped me along the way. Im always thinking how I can get better and Im thankful to all my teammates, coaches, and my family who have helped get me to this point.
Fitzmorris says St. James and specifically the girls volleyball program holds a special place in her heart. We have some very special coaches here who have built a great program where we are a family, said Fitzmorris, who notes her love for the game stems from following in the footsteps of her older sister, Ashley, who played at Morehead State. They care about developing you as a volleyball player, but more importantly as a person. Ive been blessed to be part of this program for four years.
Junior defensive specialist Mackenzie Blatcher said life without Fitzmorris will be vastly different next season.
Besides the fact she’s amazing, Audriana is very humble, Blatcher said. Everybody knows she is good, but she never acts like it. She’s very genuine. We will miss her and Jenna. It’s hard to lose players as good as they are, but they are off to bigger and greater things at Stanford. We all are expecting big things from them.
And if the last four years in Kansas are any indication, big things are indeed ahead.