By Jeff Nations
STRASBURG -- Allison Bromley sometimes feels like someone's been fiddling with the net.
How else can the Strasburg High School senior volleyball player explain her sudden ability to rise over and above as she leaps high to strike down another set for a thundering kill or bounce straight up to knock down an opponent's hit for a block?
"Sometimes, I can jump in one spot and the top of my head will go over the net," said Bromley, a 5 foot, 8 inch middle hitter for the Rams. "I don't know if the net's low or what."
"The net's not low," Strasburg coach Suzanne Mathias cut in with a laugh. "You're just jumping higher. The net is the same height it's always been."
The numbers back up Mathias' assertion that Bromley has indeed elevated her game this season. In three matches last week, Bromley totaled double digits in kills each time to help her team get off to a perfect 3-0 start. For her efforts, Bromley is The Northern Virginia Daily's Female Athlete of the Week for Aug. 25-Aug. 31.
"I think that Allison's just worked extremely hard over the past four years," Mathias said. "She played travel ball in the fall, and things have finally clicked with her. It started to click last year and at the beginning of this season it seems to have just finally come together for her. You can see it on the court."
Bromley has been focused solely on volleyball since arriving at Strasburg. When she's not playing for the Rams during the fall, Bromley plays for the Valley Juniors Volleyball Club. Last winter, her club teammates included current Rams Emily Ioannides and Kelsey Horton along with a slew of players from rival Central.
That extra work seems to be paying off this season. Through three matches, Bromley has 41 kills, nine blocks and 16 aces.
In the season opener against Stonewall Jackson, Bromley had a dominating night with 16 kills in the 3-0 victory. She was also a force in Strasburg's 3-1 victories over Bull Run District rivals Clarke County and Central. Opposing coaches and players were quick to notice.
"I think it's starting to happen already," Mathias said. "The other night Central tried to triple block her once or twice, and Stonewall at least double blocked her. They are picking up and trying to focus on where she's at on the floor. So that's leaving other people to have to be ready and be on their game, as well."
Mathias said the Rams have more hitting options this season than in recent years, with Mikala Alsberry, McKenna Orndorff, Laura Taylor, Hannah Keane and Katie Dofermire among those who can pick up the slack if Bromley does have an off night hitting.
That hasn't happened so far, as Bromley has been thriving since moving to the middle after playing last season as an outside hitter. For Bromley, the move was as much a mental adjustment as physical.
"I like middle -- sometimes it feels like you're in the way, but you get used to it," Bromley said. "I like outside, too."
The idea is that Bromley can hit anywhere for Strasburg, and so far she's proven capable of doing just that this season.
"She can go where she wants," Mathias said. "She's capable of hitting wherever she wants to at any given time."
Bromley thinks gaining more consistency on her serve has been her biggest improvement this season. She ranks second on the team with 16 aces and has cut down on the service errors.
"I think I have gotten better with my serves," Bromley said. "I used to miss the second one all the time, and I think I've gotten better at serving.
As for the strong start she's off to this year, Bromley is just glad she's helping the team have some success against some longtime rivals.
"It really does feel good," Bromley said. "It is my senior year, and it feels nice to know that we can beat our rivals. We have a lot of confidence in each other, I think, and it helps us play together."
Contact Sports Editor Jeff Nations at 540-465-5137 ext. 161, or firstname.lastname@example.org>