Verona, N.Y. - VVS senior and star volleyball player LeeAnne Lowery is officially set to continue her career at the NCAA Division I level.
Lowery received a full-ride scholarship to join the new volleyball program at Old Dominion University.
"It's very exciting, I didn't know what I was going to do at first, I was looking at a lot of schools and I was in between doing volleyball or track," Lowery said. "Ultimately, I love volleyball the most and so I stuck with that and followed my heart and picked the school I felt was going to be the best fit for me."
When the 6'4" middle hitter joins the Monarchs program next academic year, it'll be just the program's second season of competition after it's inaugural campaign this year.
"I definitely was a little nervous about it being a new program, but ultimately them being new I am going to learn a lot more with the coaches and the team," said Lowery. "They were talking about developing me more than I feel like I'd be able to develop at a huge school."
Lowery said that the prospects of being part of the foundation to help build a new program is appealing, and that getting a scholarship to play a Division I sport is an honor.
"It's so cool," she said with an ear-to-ear smile. "I definitely have to put a lot of commitment into it because it's Division I. My whole life for the next four years is going to be committed to playing volleyball."
Lowry has been on the varsity team at VVS High School for four years, where she became one of the team's leaders both on and off the court.
Currently, she serves as one of the team captains, and in previous years, has been named as the Red Devils' most valuable player by her coaches and teammates.
Her coach said that the leadership qualities she has developed over the years, as well as, her skillset on the floor will make the transition to the collegiate level easier for her given the situation at ODU.
"LeeAnne has definitely been a key player in our program," said VVS volleyball head coach Shannon Terrier-Weaver. "Starting a season with a team that is just building their program kind of brings me back to when I had LeeAnne as a freshman because we lost quite a few girls from our team. So she's been in that role before and has been that team builder."
Over the years, Lowery has not only become one of the premier players on the Red Devils roster, but also across the area.
She has been selected as an All-CNY Section III girls winter volleyball first team all-star, Tri-Valley League Pioneer first team all-star, and an All-Mohawk Valley winter sports all-star.
She is just a handful of blocks away from setting the VVS program's all-time record in that category, and hopes to be able to accomplish that if high-risk winter sports are given the authorization to proceed at some point.
"LeeAnne is dedicated, she's committed, she has a great work ethic and she's always been a great role model for the younger players," said Terrier-Weaver. "She's made me a better coach and pushed me to be better so that I could make her better."
According to Terrier-Weaver, in Lowery, Old Dominion is getting a really solid all-around player.
"She's valuable in that aspect of offense, but we talk about that blocks record and that's that defense part of it too," she said. "You can have a great rally going and she gets her hands up there and shuts it down, and it's able to generate the momentum from one side of the court back to our side in those tight matches. She's been key for us in the front row, and defensively as well, she also plays in the back row."
Lowery is planning on studying mechanical engineering while attending ODU, with the hopes of joining the military in either the Air Force or Navy as a pilot in the future.
One of the reasons she chose to attend Old Dominion was because of its location near a large naval base, and different military-focused programs offered on campus.
"I really enjoyed being around that environment [on campus]," said Lowery. "A lot of my family members are in the military and looking up to them since I was a little kid, I really enjoy everything about it and having to work hard all the time."
As to be expected, Lowery has mixed emotions about the change next academic year. While excited for the new chapter, she will miss all of her friends, teammates, and coaches that she has grown up with.
As tough as it may be to leave, her coach says she, as well as, all of the other seniors on the team deserve the opportunities they have gotten to continue their academic and/or athletic careers beyond this year.
"We have so many seniors this year that are waiting for their season right now," said Terrier-Weaver. "Looking at them and how deserving they all are and how deserving she is of this moment, and this spotlight, I am just so proud of them and very proud of her."