Female Athlete of the Week: Hawks’ Nikea Whitmore bringing energy on court

Nikea Whitmore Rich Cooley/Daily

FRONT ROYAL – No matter what sport Nikea Whitmore is playing, she likes to get involved. She enjoys being at the heart of everything her team is trying to accomplish, a leader amongst her peers.

“It just comes out,” the Skyline High School junior said Wednesday.

So when it came time for Whitmore to begin her first season of varsity volleyball for the Hawks this fall, Whitmore naturally gravitated toward a leadership role despite being a varsity newcomer on a team featuring five seniors. And it’s been Whitmore who has been the catalyst for the Hawks early in the 2015 season, Skyline coach Erika Berry said.

“It was kind of unexpected for her to actually be like a big part of the voice that’s out there on the court,” Berry said. “We have a lot of problems with keeping up energy and momentum and staying up, and she’s the voice of reason for some of the girls, really gets them going.”

Whitmore’s knack for generating positive vibes for her teammates showed last week, when she smashed a total of 13 kills, served up 17 aces and notched six blocks in a three-match span during which Skyline went 2-1.

For her efforts, Whitmore has been named The Northern Virginia Daily’s Female Athlete of the Week for Aug. 30-Sept. 5.

Berry credited Whitmore with providing the energy for the Hawks during that three-game stretch last week, but Whitmore said she was basically just reflecting the vigor she picked up from her teammates.

“I think I fed off the team, the energy we have,” Whitmore said. “I mean, I’m a little hyper so I get hyper and just feed off them.”

Skyline’s week began with a 3-1 road victory over Central on Aug. 31 in a match where the Hawks held off a late rally. Whitmore, who finished the match with five kills, five aces and a block, delivered a pair of key kills late in the fourth set that tied the game at 24-all before Skyline ended the match with a 26-24 win.

Whitmore also added three kills and three blocks the following night in Skyline’s 3-1 win over William Monroe and finished the week with five kills and two more blocks last Thursday as the Hawks nearly beat Brentsville, falling 3-2.

“She’s definitely a dominant threat out of that middle that helps us out,” Berry said. “The exciting part is she’s only a junior. She’s going to continue to grow and it’s still early in the season.”

Whitmore said it’s the team chemistry that has allowed her to become such a prominent part of Skyline’s offensive attack so quickly.

“I think it builds confidence, how they trust in me,” she said.

Whitmore’s early varsity success has spilled over to the service line, as well. She tallied at least five aces in each of Skyline’s three games last week.

“I think that’s a strong suit – a little muscle,” Whitmore said with a smile, pointing to her left bicep before explaining her routine before each and every serve – “just a breath here, three bounces and swing away.”

Berry said Whitmore brings the Hawks some much-needed consistency in her serves.

“She’s one of those that stands back there no matter where we are and is able to get that ball in, that hard-driven serve,” Berry said.

Skyline’s most recent loss to cross-town rival Warren County dropped the Hawks to 3-3 this season, but they have already topped last year’s win total by two games. Whitmore said the Hawks are out to “prove to people that we’re here to win” this fall, and she’s done her best on the court to show that so far in 2015.

“I think with Nikea you just look at her and you just see like domination in her, and then you have a conversation with her, she’s just well balanced – in school, on the court, off the court, everything,” Berry said. “The girls really respect her and I think that speaks a lot with someone who’s young and (in their) first year on varsity.”

Contact staff writer Brad Fauber at 540-465-5137 ext. 161, or bfauber@nvdaily.com