Volleyball roots run deep for Cranberry graduate Ava Ferringer and her sister, Berries junior Ayanna Ferringer – D9Sports.com

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VENUS, PA (EYT/D9) – There were times early in Ayanna Ferrington’s volleyball career when she hated the sport.

The incoming junior at Cranberry High School was definitely not a fan.

No way.

(Above, Ayanna Ferringer, left, and Ava Ferringer celebrate after a point during a game in the only season the sisters played together for Cranberry in 2020 / photo submitted)

His mother, Monica, played volleyball at a very high level at Cranberry and then at Clarion University. His older sister, Ava, was also a star on the Berries volleyball court and currently plays at Westminster College.

But Ayanna? Volleyball did not have the same affinity.

“I really wasn’t comfortable with it,” Ayanna said. “I guess I didn’t like the fact that I couldn’t be totally in control.”

Even Cranberry’s current volleyball coach, Jennifer Stover, noticed Ayanna’s disdain for the game when she coached her in seventh grade.

There was a time when Stover thought Ava was going to quit.

“She was one of the first kids we got into eighth grade and I know in that first year she didn’t like volleyball at all,” said Stover, who passed the grades. last two years as head coach of Berries varsity volleyball. “I think she wanted to be with her friends in seventh grade. I really thought we were going to lose her.

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Ayanna, however, kept coming back. Part of that was the volleyball lineage in his family. She, Ava and her mother often went out to have fun playing volleyball. Ayanna had heard stories of how good her mom was in high school — even getting an offer to play at Penn State University — and had also seen her older sister’s success with Cranberry.

The more Ayanna played, the more volleyball began to grow in her.

“I think I just decided it’s a team sport and it’s not all about me,” Ayanna said. “Once I just accepted that and accepted that we’re all going to make mistakes, that I’m going to make mistakes, and that we all have to improve and grow from that, I just started liking it. more and I enjoyed my teammates and the game more.

(Ayanna Ferringer)

Ayanna had a stellar second season midway through last year for Cranberry, which got off to a slow start to become one of the hottest teams in the streak.

The 5-foot-10 Ayanna — playing her first full volleyball season due to COVID — led the Berries with 128 kills, was second on the team with 43 blocks and sported a 96 serve percentage. % with 138 points.

Not bad for a player who is only scratching the surface of her abilities.

“She only had two weeks into her eighth year before COVID shut us down, and then her freshman year, we had a shortened season,” Stover said. “Last year she finally had the opportunity to have a bit of a normal season, and I think she’s really hit her stride. She’s such a natural athlete. She really wants to learn the game. She is one of those kids that you can talk to her about something, a change that you want to make, and she works really hard to try to implement it.

“I think she’s getting more confident in her skills,” Stover added. “She was so calm on the pitch, but she led us in the kills and it was very obvious to me that she didn’t want to let the team down. I think that’s why we did so well as the season went down last year.

Cranberry started 0-2 and 3-4 at one point before going on to earn 11 straight wins, including a District 9 Class A playoff win over Northern Potter.

Ayanna had 12 kills in the opening set of this playoff match.

The race ended in round two with a loss to Oswayo Valley.

Ayanna was a big part of this late season push for Cranberry while following in Ava’s footsteps.

“Ayanna had a big job because she was filling the role of her sister,” Stover said. “Ava was dominant at net, and I didn’t expect Ayanna to get there immediately in second year, but she worked really hard and did a great job.”

It was no coincidence.

Ayanna had watched Ava perform for years. She looked at her older sister. I wanted to be as similar strength.

“Ever since we were little, we always went outside and played volleyball and basketball and we pushed each other and got tough,” Ayanna said with a laugh.

For a long time, Ava didn’t like a shadow following her wherever she went. But after a while, Ava took her role as a mentor more seriously.


(Ava Ferringer)

“Honestly, at first I felt like I was always dragging my little sister around,” Ava said. “Now I’m like, ‘Let’s go play pickup with me and my friends. She is part of the group of friends. I honestly think it helped her with her skill level as well. She’s always played with older girls and older guys – basketball too.

“Probably every night it was, ‘Let’s go out and spice up each other. Let’s go out and shoot some hoops. Let’s go to the sand courts,” Ava added. “We would be out there for hours tearing bullets apart. Sometimes it wasn’t always the prettiest, but we had fun.

The sisters played a year together at the Cranberry volleyball and basketball courts — though both seasons were cut short by COVID.

“It was a bit of a different setting because we had to behave a bit,” Ayanna said with a laugh. “We couldn’t just come up and hit each other when we wanted to. It was really cool to play with her and admire her and watch her play varsity volleyball at Westminster. She has always been someone I admire. »

Last season was tough for both sisters. When Ayanna played, Ava probably played herself or practiced volleyball.

When a game or practice was over, the first thing Ava did was check how Ayanna and Cranberry were doing on the pitch that night.

“We usually had two-and-a-half to three-hour practices,” Ava said. “I would rush to call my mom or FaceTime to see how she was doing. I could never go to games in person, but I always called mom from the locker room to see what was going on. I mean, it stank a little. It was hard for my parents too to choose who they were going to watch, but they made it work.

Ava, also 5-10, hopes to make things work at Westminster.

As a rookie last season, she saw time on the court for the Titans, who went 28-5 and won their third consecutive Presidents’ Athletic Conference championship.

“In high school I was an average hitter, but coming into college as a right midfielder, I really enjoyed defense even more,” Ava said. “You’re the first defense against the other team’s outside hitter. It’s something that I’ve really come to appreciate. Personally, I want to improve. As a team, I want to bring us back to this PAC championship. We’ve won three in a row, but one more would be great.

Ayanna also wants to bring even more success to Cranberry this season.

Now more confident – ​​and with far more affection for volleyball than she had when she started – it’s unclear what Ayanna can do.

“I definitely have high hopes for her,” Stover said. “This summer we played in a summer league in Franklin and it’s just obvious that she’s still learning and seeing and being able to move around the court. She’s got the height and she can jump too, so she has those two things going for her. She can definitely hit the ball.

Cranberry Area High School sports coverage on Explore and D9Sports.com is brought to you by Redbank Chevrolet and DuBrook.
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