Versatile White critical weapon for SV volleyball

August 28, 2019 Cranberry Local Sports

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Seneca Valley's Sarah White (13) swings her arm forward for an attack against Butler during a match last year. White will get more chances to hit at the net this season in the Raiders' new 6-2 rotation. White, a junior, has made the all-state team each of her two years at Seneca Valley.

JACKSON TWP — Sarah White sees herself as a weapon.

A sort of Swiss Army knife on the volleyball court for the Seneca Valley girls volleyball team.

White, just a junior, has already made the PIAA all-state team twice as a setter.

This year, White's eclectic skills may be on display even more for the Raiders, who will switch to a 6-2 rotation.

That will give White more opportunities to dice up opponents at the net.

“I'll get a chance to do both, and I'm excited about that,” White said. “It's fun to play front row. I'll have more chances to block and dump and hit.”

White had 135 kills last season — an impressive number for a setter in a 5-1 rotation.

She also had 35 blocks and 40 aces.

White has been playing the sport exclusively for most of her life — she's also a standout for the Pittsburgh Elite Volleyball club team.

She spends hours a day in the gym and hones her game whenever she can.

Never, White said, has she felt burned out.

“I play the whole year round and I love it,” White said. “Club is a huge part of the reason I got better.”

White praised Pitt Elite coach Jen Flynn Oldenburg for her development.

Oldenburg starred at Baldwin, moved on to Ohio State and played on the U.S. National Team as a setter.

White may be following in her mentor's footsteps.

White committed to Ohio State last summer and plans to graduate from Seneca Valley shortly after her senior volleyball season concludes in the fall of 2020 so she can attend classes in Columbus in the spring.

A 4.0 student, White has never regretted making her college choice so soon.

“It was a perfect decision for me to commit there and commit early,” White said. “It's given me a chance to get to know everyone so when I get there I'll be comfortable. I'm still so happy I chose Ohio State. The coaches and players have been fantastic.”

White has even converted Seneca Valley volleyball coach Karen Martini into an Ohio State fan.

Sort of.

Martini, who will step aside from the bench this season to recover from extensive ankle surgery — longtime assistant Brett Poirer will take over on an interim basis — said her family is big Penn State University fans.

Yet, Martini can be seen on occasion wearing an OSU sweatshirt that White gave her.

“My family asks me, 'How can you wear that?'” Martini said, chuckling. “I say, 'But it says volleyball. It's from Sarah.'”

Martini said it was a tough decision to step aside because of her surgery, which will require her to stay off her feet for three months — especially with what she's seen from White.

“I don't even know how to put into words how much better she's gotten,” Martini said. “I don't think people understand just how good she is. I hope they do. She's amazing.”

White's serve may also be slicing up the opposition this season. She has worked extensively on her jump serve to add a measure of consistency to its potency.

“We were at a volleyball camp at Juniata College and she served people off the court,” Martini said.

White said she feels more confident in her jump serve now than she ever has.

It's definitely a risk-reward serve — more reward than risk these days.

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Mike Kilroy

Mike Kilroy

I joined the Butler Eagle in January of 2000 after spending five years at the Steubenville Herald-Star and Weirton Daily Times, where I did everything from editing the sports section to knocking snow and ice off the Associated Press satellite dish. I graduated from Kent State University in 1994 with a degree in magazine journalism and a minor in skipping class. My honors include a 2007 Associated Press award for feature writing, a 2005 and 2007 Keystone award for column writing and a 2003 Golden Quill award for feature writing. I have a high game of 255 at Wii Bowling.