As a freshman, looking to try a new sport, Adele Hollander sat at her first volleyball practice and started to feel sick to her stomach.
Her nervousness and anxiousness made for a bit of an uncomfortable early experience.
But, with the encouragement from her mom, Christine, the fiercely competitive the Abington Heights standout, who is from an athletically successful family, stayed the course and has developed into one of the best players in the Lackawanna League.
“My mom always tells me to just go out there and do what I do,” Hollander, 18, said. “She told me that I was athletic enough and I would pick things up.
“So, I kept pushing and working hard at it and now it has become my passion.”
By being intense and also an early student of the game, Hollander, who has been greatly influenced by her brothers, Nate and Jordan, who both were multi-sport standouts at Abington Heights, she earned a spot in the lineup rotation of her new endeavor.
That first season, Hollander had 14 points and five aces, while contributing three digs as a Libero.
Abington Heights finished 14-4 in the Lackawanna League.
“I always grew up knowing how to play sports and I come from a very competitive family and we always wanted to go out and always do our best in sports,” Hollander said. “It was really scary at first playing in games, I had to get used to playing with and the intensity they played with. But, I had a really inviting team that welcomed me and was really helpful in helping me learn the game.”
Returning for her sophomore season, Hollander established herself as an impact player.
She became dependable with her serving game, scoring 140 points, which included 34 aces. Defensively, Hollander denied opponents with her quickness by digging out 147 kill attempts and the Lady Comets were in contention for the league crown with a 15-3 record.
But last season, Hollander became an all-star.
As the team captain, she led the Lady Comets with 122 points, 43 aces and 121 digs.
“It’s really hard to think of yourself as one of the top players in the league,” Hollander said. “I just stay humble and know that I have to keep working hard to continue to grow as a player.”
Coming into her senior year, Hollander, who also excels at track and field, had high expectations.
Coach Kendra Hooper, who returned after being away from the program for a season, noticed the 52 kills Hollander had as a junior and moved her from Libero to outside hitter where she could have a bigger impact on the game.
It’s a move that already has paid dividends.
In five matches, Hollander has 15 kills. She has also fueled the offense with 49 points 22 aces, already, and on defense had 42 digs.
“I am still learning the position,” Hollander said. “It’s difficult doing something for years and then changing, but it’s what is best for the team.
“It’s different from staying in the back row. Even though, I am not the tallest player, I am getting some kills. I have to be strategic to find the openings to put the ball down.”
Last week, the Lady Comets also made some noise in the league.
After enduring a pair of tough losses to perennial powers Blue Ridge and Western Wayne, Abington Heights earned a win over defending champion Dunmore that has energized Hollander and her teammates for a second-half push.
“It was great to beat Dunmore, because they have such a great program, and I think we have only beaten them one other time in the last 13 years,” Hollander said. “I feel like that really gives us confidence that we are capable of playing at the highest level.
“It doesn’t matter if what team you are playing, you have to play your best game all the time and play up to their level and that’s what we are going to do every match.”
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