Elevating her game: Porter has taken her game to new heights over the years

MILFORD — The love affair began in first grade.

With her sister, Megan, on the Gifford Grade School volleyball team and her aunt, Lorraine, as the head coach, Sarah Porter was immediately dying to get involved. When her aunt asked if she wanted to head to practice with her one day, Porter jumped at the opportunity.

Even though she was still too young to play, Porter joined the Eagles as a team manager and served in that capacity as a first- through fourth-grader. Anything to get closer to the game until she could finally play.

Fast forward several years later, and Porter’s love of the game continues to blossom —this time at a much-higher level as a senior for Armstrong-Potomac — as she has evolved into one of the area’s top hitters.

“I’ve always been around the game. When I first got into fifth grade, I always loved it and wanted to go to practice,” Porter said. “You know how most people are like, ‘Oh, I don’t like practices.’ I wanted to go to practice. Even now, I like going to practice, and when I first started club, I loved it even more and wanted to play year-round.”

Upon finishing her fifth-grade season at Gifford, Porter began playing club volleyball as a sixth-grader, and she joined Champaign’s Prime Time Volleyball Club in seventh grade.

Porter’s sister had played club, and when the younger Porter saw a flyer for the Prime Time team, she wanted to give it a whirl.

“I always loved volleyball, and I decided I wanted to go try it out, and I stuck with it,” Porter said.

Ever since, she has been a member of the Champaign club team, and her experiences there have helped lift her into the upper echelon of area talent.

Two summers ago, Porter’s American Athletic Union club team finished fifth out of 161 teams at the national tournament in Florida, and she attended a camp in Washington in addition to participating in the club circuit. And this summer, Porter’s self-assurance was taken to yet another level, as she and four other 17-year-olds were moved up to the 18-year-old age group for the AAU team — Summerlyn Smith (Mattoon), Raeanne Allen (DeLand-Weldon), Alexis Aragon (Champaign Central) and Bree Trimble (St. Joseph-Ogden).

“Next summer, when we’re on the 18-year-old team, it’ll give us an extra confidence booster to know we’ve played with these girls before, and we can do it again,” Porter said. “Definitely playing against the tougher teams has helped me become a better player. Going and playing at the bigger competitions helped me a lot.”

Porter can attack opponents in a variety of ways. On Thursday in a win over rival Milford, the senior showed her prowess as a hard hitter, rocketing several volleys straight into the ground or off opponents’ arms. But she also collected a few of her game-high 10 kills through softly hit taps and on serves.

Those are skills she has honed throughout her club years, but just as important as hitting skills, Porter has learned resiliency through those summers. 

“A lot of times (in high school) you’d see people get down, but in those kinds of situations (in club tournaments) you can’t get down,” Porter said. “You have to go on to the next point right away and move on and see what you can do.

“Definitely just hanging out with the teams and always being around them was great. I always loved being around the teams in those situations.”

Though she still hopes to improve her control on hits when the sets are off the net, Porter has continued her steady climb, and it has resulted in nearing a significant milestone — she is projected to hit 1,000 kills later this season.

“I’m really excited about it because I’ve been working so hard for that throughout high school,” Porter said. “Just getting to that 1,000 kills is a big mile mark for me.”

Contact Zack Carpenter at zcarpenter@rantoulpress.com and on Twitter @ZackCarpenter11.

Categories (3):Prep Sports, Volleyball, Sports


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