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Parkersburg’s Anna Umpleby signs to play volleyball at Alderson Broaddus

Photo by Jay W. Bennett Parkersburg High’s Anna Umpleby watches as the ball goes over the net during a high school volleyball match this season. Umpleby has signed with Alderson Broaddus to continue her volleyball career.

PARKERSBURG — Anna Umpleby, Parkersburg High’s senior volleyball masher, announced her decision Wednesday at the YMCA to continue her career as a student-athlete for Alderson Broaddus University.

A four-year letterwinner for Big Red boss Erin Thorpe, Umpleby will take her talents to Philippi to play for the Battlers of head coach Abby Stoner.

Thanks in part to her athletic prowess along with a 4.1 GPA, Umpleby won’t have to worry about being saddled with student loan debt.

After attending a volleyball camp at AB a couple of summers ago, Umpleby was pretty much hooked on the Division II program.

“The girls were awesome,” said Umpleby, who also earned two letters in basketball. “She let me talk to a few of them and I got a personal tour around the school. She took the time to do it herself.”

Although she visited a couple other schools, including West Virginia Wesleyan, once she saw the campus and met coach Stoner “I just knew that was the one for me.”

Umpleby was an integral part of the Big Reds qualifying for the Class AAA state tournament in back-to-back campaigns.

“Anna will do nothing but succeed at AB as I think that program fits her and her abilities,” stated coach Thorpe. “Anna came into PHS with pure raw talent. You could tell she fell in love with the sport and worked so hard to become better in and out of season.

“She is the kind of athlete you want to have on your team as a coach, a great leader, brings energy, has a drive to succeed and always supports everyone around her. She’s just a great kid and I am so proud of her for achieving this great accomplishment, especially at my alma mater. The best part about Anna is she isn’t finished growing as a player.”

The Big Red ended her final season with 317 kills and a .249 hitting efficiency. She added 17 blocks, 42 aces and 177 digs.

PHS won the regional championship, but due to Mountain State COVID-19 restrictions the red and white were denied entry into the state tournament.

“Disappointing,” admitted Umpleby, who is leaning toward a major along a dietitian or nutritionist type path, of the coronavirus situation.

“It is what it is, but it’s really a big bummer. We were on a streak. We were doing really, really good things and I think we had a great chance of getting that title.”

Umpleby, who has been competing with the local Tribe volleyball club, credits former PHS head coach Carl Harnish for her start in the sport.

“He got me on a club team going into my seventh grade year and I couldn’t even serve it over the net,” Umpleby said. “I had no idea about anything volleyball and he helped me a lot.

“He made it so much fun and I got to high school and it became more competitive and I fell in love with it. Coach Erin, she made it really easy to be the best person and best player I can be.”

The expected future outside hitter for the Battlers knows things will be a little different at the next level.

“A clean slate,” she said. “I don’t know anybody up there, but I met a couple of them when I visited and they all seemed really nice.

“This summer I worked with Allison Burner. I was doing workouts with her two or three times a week. I was really trying this past summer to increase my vertical.”

The Big Red said her fondest memories were those tight matches “and you win and you get that last hit or your teammates, just the camaraderie between the teams and getting those wins. That was just the best feeling for me.”

Despite being a “little nervous” when it comes to “trying to balance everything” as a collegiate student-athlete, Umpleby is focused and said not being a procrastinator should be to her advantage.

“I’m so excited to go up there,” said Umpleby, who added when asked what her message to young girls would be who are debating about playing volleyball “they can do it.

“Work hard. Watch it. Watch others. Listen to their coaches. No matter what point they start at it’s an awesome game and if they stick with it they’ll probably love it as much as I do. There are spots for everybody.”

Contact Jay Bennett at jbennett@newsandsentinel.com

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