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Ava Smith to continue volleyball career at Albion

SET: Northfield’s Ava Smith (20) prepares to set the ball to teammate Addi Baker (background) during a match this season for the Norse.

BY JACOB RUDE - sports@wabashplaindealer.com

After spending the last three seasons as an anchor for the Northfield volleyball team, Ava Smith will look to become an integral part of another program.

Smith will continue her volleyball career at Albion College, a Division III program, where she joins a program on the up and up.

For Smith, who will major in sports medicine with a focus in pediatric occupational therapy, the chance to continue her career is a culmination of years of work.

“It means a lot because everybody that’s helped me has put a lot of work into me,” Smith said. “I’ve learned a lot throughout everything.”

Smith has been in the middle of the Norse’s lineup for the last three seasons, splitting time at setter as a sophomore before taking ownership of the position the last two seasons.

In total, Smith racked up 1,384 assists in three years on the varsity team including a career-high 641 assists as a senior. Smith also finished with 1,053 digs in her time in blue, topping out at 437 digs as a senior.

With Smith, the Norse went from back-to-back losing seasons in 2015 and 2016 to not only a winning season in 2017, but a fourth-place finish in the Three Rivers Conference and a spot in the sectional final.

After an impressive senior season, Smith was named to the All-Conference team. She also received All-Conference honorable mention as a junior.

Smith will join a Britons program that is only a few years removed from a turnaround itself.

From 2010 until 2014, the Britons won just 20 games combined. However, the team has captured at least 14 wins in each of the last four seasons, topping out with an 18-11 mark in 2016.

Albion finished fourth in the Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association in 2016 and fifth in 2017. The Britons have never won the conference title and have never finished higher than third, which they’ve done three times.

The Britons graduate just two players from last season’s team and return setting Grace VanDorn, a freshman who finished with 1,102 assists last season.

Despite that, Smith’s goals once she arrives on campus are team-oriented, with the first goal being conference success.

“(I) hope to win an MIAA championship,” Smith said, “and hopefully get really close as a team and learn new skills…throughout my season.”