As a three-sport athlete at Columbus East, Cortney VanLiew had her pick of which one to play in college.
Last week, the junior decided on a school where she can play one sport in the fall and a variation of that sport in the spring. She will play volleyball and beach volleyball at Florida Gulf Coast University.
“I really want to play both,” VanLiew said.
“I am really a big fan of beaches and warm weather, so it probably played a little bit of an impact.”
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Beach volleyball is a championship sport at the Fort Myers, Florida, school, and Matt Botsford coaches both the volleyball and sand volleyball teams. While some bigger schools wanted the 5-foot-10 VanLiew as a libero or back row player for volleyball, he recruited her as an outside hitter.
That was a big selling point for VanLiew, who wanted to be a hitter in college. She chose the Eagles over Memphis and St. Louis and will receive a full scholarship.
The Seymour resident went to grade school at Immanuel Lutheran with Amanda Moore, a former Owl who is a senior on the basketball team at FGCU. On her recruiting trip, VanLiew met Tayler Goodall, a Columbus North graduate and a redshirt freshman on the Eagles’ women’s basketball team.
An all-around player since her freshman year for the Olympians, VanLiew leads this year’s squad with 290 kills and 290 digs. She also ranks second on the team with 33 aces and fourth with 20 blocks.
“I think that on top of being a great hitter, she’s a six-rotation player that provides great defense and great ball control,” East coach Stacie Pagnard said.
Pagnard thinks that will help her in beach volleyball, where only two girls play at a time.
“To be a great sand player, you have to be great at every skill, and she is,” Pagnard said. “So I think she’ll really shine there.”
VanLiew was also a state qualifier in swimming and a regional qualifier in track last season.
Since volleyball recruits players earlier in their careers than swimming or track, she hasn’t had as much contact with colleges in those sports as in volleyball.
This fall, VanLiew has been swimming in the mornings before school. She plans to stick with swimming and track throughout her high school career and is on pace to finish with 12 letters.
But the focus for now is with the volleyball team, which is 22-7 and ranked No. 10 in Class 4A. East begins sectional play Thursday against Bloomington South at Shelbyville.
“I most definitely want to win a state championship,” VanLiew said. “That’s been the main goal all four years.”
6 p.m.: Columbus North vs. Bloomington North
7:30 p.m.: Columbus East vs. Bloomington South
11 a.m.: Columbus North-Bloomington North winner vs. Columbus East-Bloomington South winner
12:30 p.m.: Shelbyville vs. East Central
7 p.m.: Championship