Troyer more than ready for the challenges of D-I volleyball

Troyer more than ready for the challenges of D-I volleyball
Dave Mast

Surrounded by her coaching staff, Ava Troyer recently celebrated her signing on to play collegiately at Kent State University.


For Hiland senior volleyball player Ava Troyer, discovering her immense talent and developing her game was always inside of her. However, coming into the Hiland program as a young lady who was on the quiet, timid side, it took some time for her gift to set sail.

When it did, it came quickly and powerfully, and Troyer smashed her way into the Hiland record books in four terrific seasons both individually and team-wise at Hiland.

Her effort to improve has led her to a scholarship to Kent State University, and on Wednesday, Nov. 15, she signed her letter of intent and celebrated with friends, teammates and family at the Reese Center at Hiland High School.

“This is really exciting,” Hiland head coach Kelly Miller said. “We really struggled early on with her confidence and even into last year, but I felt she came into this year with so much more confidence. There were times when she would walk out onto the court and she felt like she was the dominant presence.”

Troyer said she doesn’t enjoy being the center of attention, but with her sheer physical presence and power, it’s hard to miss her on the floor.

This season turned into Troyer’s best of her career, and she said the idea of signing on to play college hung over her head all season, and while it didn’t deter her from becoming one of the all-time greats at Hiland, she is glad the official signing has finally come to fruition.

“It’s a big relief to get this over,” Troyer said of the signing. “I was stressing about this for a while.”

She may have stressed about that, but it appeared as there was no stress on the floor as Troyer went crashing into the Hiland volleyball record books by claiming three separate all-time records.

This year she set the program’s career kill record that has stood for many years, as well as current assistant coach Megan Weaver’s block record set in 2008. Troyer also set the attacking record for most kills in a season.

Miller said the coaching staff did some digging, and they believe Troyer will be the first Div. I volleyball player to ever come out of the Hiland program.

“We think she is the first, but don’t hold me to that,” Miller said.

While all the records belong to Troyer, Miller said her big hitter actually opened the door for other teammates to craft successful campaigns. She said teams would scout and end up double and triple teaming Troyer, which provided many more opportunities for the rest of the Hiland hitters to produce, including Haley Yoder, who had herself a strong season, earning honorable mention All-Ohio honors.

Miller said that is a prime case of a player making everyone around her better and was instrumental in lifting Hiland back into regional play.

While Troyer may have set the individual records, she was quick to acknowledge her teammates for the reason she was able to do so.

“Without them I couldn’t have been doing any of this,” Troyer said. “And having Ava (Yoder) setting me up for all four years has been amazing. She is as responsible for my success as anyone.”

She also credited coach Miller and the rest of the coaching staff for helping her hone her skills and building her confidence in herself.

Troyer looks back on her career and points to her freshman season as the point she began to understand her talent for the game. She said she had made the varsity team as a swing player doing double duty on both varsity and junior varsity.

However, an injury to one of the frontline players opened the door for her to step into a much bigger role, and she seized the day.

“I had to step into that game, and I was super nervous,” Troyer said. “But Ava was already setting (as a freshman), and I got my first-ever kill, and I was so happy. That was when I thought, ‘I want to do this for the rest of my life.’”

Coach Miller said Troyer is not one to seek out the spotlight, and being part of the team is much more important to her than any individual accolades.

Troyer agreed. “I love being wild in games and getting excited for other people when they make big plays,” she said.

Troyer visited Kent State University earlier and experienced the vast expanse of the gymnasium and later attended a camp there, where the coaching staff was impressed with her skill set and they began building a relationship. The coaches there gave her some programs she could work on, and the courting process saw the KSU staff entice Troyer to come to Kent State.

She quickly built a relationship with the KSU team, and the fit seemed perfect for Troyer. She said she is looking forward to the many challenges that accompany the step up to playing Div. I volleyball.

“It’s bigger and practices will be harder and I’ll put in a lot more work, and the competition will be so much better, but I think I’m ready for that. I’m looking forward to it, and I’m excited for the next level.”

Troyer said despite all of the records and achieving second-team All-Ohio status, she still has only begun to touch the abilities inside of her that are waiting to explode at the college ranks.

“I know I can get better and develop my career,” Troyer said.

While at KSU she said she will study nursing or business, although she said a career path remains up in the air. The one thing she does know is she will hammer volleyballs at an alarming clip as she prepares to attack the new college game.

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