Now that the high school volleyball season is over, the fun is just beginning for Cortney VanLiew.

Three times a week, the junior drives from her Seymour home to Columbus East High School for morning swim practice. Following a full day of school and afternoon swim practice, VanLiew drives an hour to Plainfield three times a week for practice with the Circle City Volleyball Club. Then, she makes the nearly hour-and-a-half drive home to Seymour.

Such is life this time of year for the two-sport star and three sport athlete, who is this year’s The Republic Volleyball Player of the Year.

“Eventually, I get into a routine, and it gets a lot easier,” said VanLiew, who runs track in the spring. “The first week was a lot harder because it was my first week doing it, but I should be getting a lot more structured in my day.”

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The Olympians certainly were structured when VanLiew was on the court this season, which essentially was every play of every set of every match. She played all six rotations for East, which went 28-9 and won Hoosier Hills Conference and sectional titles.

VanLiew led the Olympians with 398 kills, 402 digs and 44 aces in 96 sets played. She also had 25 blocks.

“I was a little shaky in the middle of the season, but coach (Stacie Pagnard) really helped me work through it,” VanLiew said. “She helped me with my mental game, as well as my physical game.”

Pagnard was in her first year coaching at East after taking over the program in the spring. She knew VanLiew was special from the beginning.

“I’m really proud of her with how she’s evolved her game,” Pagnard said. “She’s a tremendous athlete, but she’s becoming a ball-control expert, and I think that defensively, she’s taken her game to the next level and that’s going to set her apart in college from everyone else.”

Prior to the start of the season, VanLiew committed to play volleyball and beach volleyball at Florida Gulf Coast University. Her mother Janet VanLiew played at Louisville and coached at Brownstown Central.

“(Cortney is) a natural leader,” Pagnard said. “There have been times where she kind of bit her tongue and let the seniors lead. She’s respectful, and she’s ready. She’s been around volleyball forever. She knows what it takes, and I think she’s going to be one of the best leaders this school has ever seen.”

Cortney VanLiew led the Olympians to a final four appearance in Class 4A as a freshman. She hopes to take them another step as a senior next fall.

“Even though the season is over, and we didn’t finish where we wanted, I thought we were playing our best volleyball by the end of the season,” VanLiew said. “I hope that we carry that over to next year, and we make it all the way to state. That’s our goal.”

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Ted Schultz is sports editor for The Republic. He can be reached at tschultz@therepublic.com or 812-379-5628.