Although it was just one season, Boonville senior Breanna Smith more than made her mark as a middle hitter for the Lady Pirates volleyball team.
After playing at Geneseo High School in Illinois, Smith brought her talents to Boonville where her mom and dad grew up.
As it turns out, Smith will be on the move again after recently signing a volleyball letter of intent at the University of New Hampshire in Durham, New Hampshire.
Smith said she chose the University of New Hampshire after the coaches and the team were very inviting, and they made her feel like she belonged at UNH.
“The campus was beautiful, and the business school was incredible,” Smith said. “After visiting the campus, I had that gut feeling that UNH was where I needed to be.”
A first-team all-conference and all-district selection for the Lady Pirates, Smith definitely lived up to the hype while leading the team with 223 kills on 515 attack attempts along with 75 blocks. She also finished the season with 141 digs, 94 service points with 17 aces and five assists.
Boonville Lady Pirates volleyball coach Morgan Sprigg said Smith was a great asset to the team.
“She was selected both first team all-conference and all-district honors, which was well deserved,” Sprigg said. “When I found out that she was transferring here, I knew that she was going to help our team be successful. She is an outstanding volleyball player and I wish I could have coached her for more than one year. She played all six rotations for me and led the floor. When she wasn’t in the front row doing her thing, she was playing aggressive defense and we used her to run an offense in the back row hitting 10’s. She was a solid key to our team and there were not many girls that could stop her at the net.”
In addition to be being named a captain of the team, Sprigg said you could also tell that Smith had been playing volleyball for many years.
“Breanna is very smart on the floor and knows where to be at all times,” Sprigg said. “Offensively she did a fantastic job at placing the ball to the open are on the floor, which is a true good hitter. She is one of the best hitters that I have coached and I am honored to have gotten to coach her this year. Her talent really helped us out this year and I cannot be thankful enough. She will be truly missed next year, but I am excited to see her play at the new level. She deserves every bit of this scholarship and the University of New Hampshire is lucky to have her. I cannot wait to see what they have in-store for her.”
Smith said while she finally decided on UNH to play volleyball, she was also interested in the University of Arkansas, Missouri State, Arkansas State and the University of Nebraska-Kearney.
“I was in contact with multiple schools, including the four I mentioned above along with Winona State, James Madison University, Southeast Missouri State, and a few others,” Smith said.
Of course Smith also made her mark as a member of the Geneseo volleyball team, breaking the school record with 72 blocks and being named to the Quad City Metro’s Volleyball All-Stars honorable mention team as a junior.
Playing volleyball, however, was not a lifelong dream of Smith’s, especially at the collegiate level.
“I didn’t really start playing volleyball until seventh grade, and I didn’t take the sport seriously until my junior year,” Smith said. “Basketball has been my sport since kindergarten, and my middle school self had dreams of playing for UConn. However, my club coaches last year made me realize that I have great volleyball talent and potential, and I should take the sport to the next level. Basketball will always hold a special place in my heart, but I don’t think I love anything as much as I love volleyball, besides God and my family of course. Although playing volleyball in college has only been a dream for about a year now, I don’t think I could picture myself doing anything else for the next four years.”
As for her goals at UNH, Smith said for the next four years she would like to become the strongest volleyball player she can be.
“I am going to spend a lot of time in the weight room and in the gym to make sure I don’t waste any of my potential,” Smith said. “I am also looking forward to creating lifelong friendships with my teammates and learning more academically. I cannot wait to spend the next four years playing the sport that I love with incredible teammates.”
Smith said she also knows she has plenty of work ahead to play at the next level.
“I think I need to work on getting faster and strong,” Smith said. “As a middle blocker, you have to be quick on your feet in order to get to the blocks in time, and it is hard work, especially in the fast paced games. Becoming stronger will allow me to hit harder, block more aggressively, and become an all-around better volleyball player.”
As for the highlight of her career, Smith said it was the Mid-East Qualifier in Indianapolis in March. She said she had a lot of kills throughout the weekend and was discovered by many college coaches, including UNH.
“I owe my success that weekend to my setter and my team’s defensive players,” Smith said.
As for the 2018 season, Smith said the season didn’t end how any of the players wanted it to but that she is still proud of the team’s growth as a whole. She said their skills and connections where a hundred times better at the end of the season than they were during summer league.
“I believe that the underclassmen had huge roles to fulfill, but they did a great job of doing what they were supposed to do to make our team better,” Smith said.
As for the biggest influence on her playing volleyball, Smith said when it comes to inspirations, three people come to mind: Heath Donath, Dave Runchey and Randy Wee. She said Heath was her Iowa Select Volleyball coach last year.
“He was the first person to take my volleyball career seriously, and the first person to make me realize that I have the potential to play at the Division I level,” Smith said. “I owe most of my success to Heath. Not only is he a great coach, he is also a great human being. He made it a point to know all of his players’ dreams, and would do anything to help them achieve their goals. He was there for the highlights of my career and for the lowest points of my career. If it wasn’t for Heath’s support, I would not be where I am today.
“Dave Runchey and Randy Wee were my club basketball coaches in 8th grade. Coach Wee was a great guy, and he noticed my athleticism early on. He told me that even though I wasn’t the best on my team, I could become something great if I kept working at it. At the time, I didn’t take his advice seriously, but as I have grown as an athlete, I realize that his encouragement helped me get to where I am now. Coach Runchey continued to coach me throughout high school. He is probably the toughest coach I have ever had. He pushed me to my limits during practice because he knew I could be better, and he wanted me to reach my potential. Being coached by him taught me discipline and determination. He helped me mature into the athlete and person I am today.”
As far as what she is going to miss the most about playing volleyball in high school, Smith said it is having her parents at all of her games.
“I know I don’t tell them enough, but I am so grateful that they come to every single one of my games,” Smith said. “Seeing them in the crowd makes me smile, and it motivates me to do better. I won’t be able to see them at every game throughout the next four years, but I know they will still be supporting me from home.”