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DeHaan brings size, life values to volleyball court

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Photo: Courtesy photo / Grand Valley Lanthorn

Courtesy Photo / spartannation.com
Former Michigan State basketball player, Allyssa DeHaan is now a member of the Laker volleyball team

At Grand Valley State University, the Laker values are a way of life, and for senior outside hitter Allyssa DeHaan, relying on values is just how she has been raised. She’ll bring that combination to the volleyball court this season and put on full display.

“When Allyssa was playing basketball [in high school], she was being recruited by a number of different teams all around the nation,” said Capt. Brandon DeHaan, assistant director of the GVSU Department of Public Safety and Allyssa’s father. “She broke it down to two places to play basketball: one of those was Michigan State University, and one was Grand Valley. I was very proud of her from the standpoint that she identified two very good schools with a good history, tradition and specifically values. We talk a lot about values and doing the right thing and doing your best.”

Alyssa starred on the Michigan State basketball team as a four-year player. That experience and those values are something that Allyssa will bring to the court for the Lakers volleyball team this fall. However, Allysa’s formidable experience on both the basketball and volleyball courts won’t be her only edge at GVSU – her 6-foot-9 frame will help her tower over the competition in more ways than one.

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Courtesy Photo / syracuse.com Former Michigan State basketball star Allyssa DeHaan will be joining the Laker volleyball team for the 2011 season

“The opposing team has got to pay attention to her,” said Deanne Scanlon, GVSU head coach. “Just her sheer size alone is visible when we have scrimmaged some teams. They are not setting the ball in her direction because they know they are putting their hitter at a real disadvantage.”

While Allyssa does have a height advantage, the long time period between her last time on the volleyball court could put her behind the curve. The last time she played volleyball competitively was her sophomore year of high school. Although she played at the varsity level, the Division-II atmosphere is something she will have to get adjusted to.

“I have lost a lot,” she said. “I don’t remember a lot of the rules, how the game goes, and how to read certain situations. It is fun to learn all those things again, but at the same time frustrating that I don’t know them and am up to speed with my fellow teammates. It’s a big learning process.”

Scanlon echoed DeHaan’s feelings.

“She basically is learning a brand new sport,” she said.

Even as the process chugs along, her teammates are still there to support her.

“They really welcomed me warmly and have especially been really patient because I don’t remember what to call and forgot some footwork,” Allyssa said. “They have been really patient and understanding that it is a process and it is like a new sport for me.”

The team also realizes what she can bring to the table even with what she must learn.

“She is so new to the game,” said senior middle blocker Nicole Whiddon. “She is still learning so much. It’s nice to know she can come in if we need a block or if they have a really strong hitter, we can use her for defense. Just putting her hands to the net is such a force.

While the team has welcomed her, DeHaan is still struggling with assessing her play.

“The coaches are being more patient with me than I am with myself,” she said. “Right now we are just focusing on learning and getting the footwork down. Everything else will fall into place. I just have to slow myself down and understand the learning curve is going to take me a while.”

Even with the tough road she faces, Allyssa has the support of her team and coaches. And she fits right in to the mindset of what the team hopes to accomplish this year.

“Personally, I just want to contribute in any way that I can. If that is playing, encouraging or leadership, I just want to contribute,” she said. “In terms of the team, we want to win a championship. That is what we have been talking about since day one.”

zsepanik@lanthorn.com



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