Bridge Sports Complex Athlete of the Week: Philip Barbour’s Emily Denison

Denison is top 3 in blocks in class AA despite less sets played
Published: Sep. 12, 2022 at 8:57 PM EDT
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PHILIPPI, W.Va (WDTV) - Emily Denison isn’t just a star volleyball player for Philip Barbour, she is a star player for the entire state. For instance, she currently ranks 3rd in class AA in total blocks despite playing in almost 10 fewer sets than the overall leaders. If you were to adjust numbers to even out sets played, it’s likely that she would be near the top in every category in all of West Virginia. Simply, Denison says that’s a goal for her. A player like that doesn’t come by very often. A lot of that starts with her mentality. She’s wanted to be this since she started playing volleyball.

“I really wanted to be a crucial player,” said Denison. “I grew up playing very competitive soccer and ended up giving up soccer for volleyball. I wanted to make it something I was great at. I would always, I should have never done it, but I would always compare myself as much as I shouldn’t, I always compared myself and always wanted to be just as good or be able to play at the same level. Being a senior, I want them to be just as competitive as I am.”

Denison’s soccer background bleeds into what her team is able to accomplish on the court. Many of the senior class started by playing soccer together, something that Denison says allows for her team to have so much success.

“It’s definitely cool to take the family environment that we had in soccer and translate it into a more physical and closer environment in volleyball,” said Denison. “There’s just six of us, and we’re constantly relying on each other. It has to be the constant good attitude and good communication.”

The Lady Colts as a whole is a team that notices improvements and constantly seeks them. Returning serves, defensive adjustments and the ability to compound offense with defense are notes that Denison has noticed this year. When considering that this team returned all but 2 members of the state championship team, head coach Heather Halfin says that this senior group wants it more now than ever before.

“When it comes to being a senior, this is it,” said coach Halfin. “This is your last hoorah. I feel like with the leadership that I have, I think that they see the importance of it and they’ve tasted it. They want to end out on top.”

Despite being listed as a middle and outside hitter, Dennison is a team leader in Digs and is also a player that does a bulk of serving for the team. Her ability to play around the entire court speaks volumes of her leadership.

“Having someone out there that is going to constantly talk - constantly be a motivator,” said coach Halfin. “That’s what we need. Even if she is a little bit tired, that energy she brings, in terms of being a leader, we definitely need that on the court as much as we can possibly get it.”