POWHATAN – “It feels like a dream, honestly.”
Sierra Ellison didn’t believe it when they offered her a spot on their volleyball team.
“I was like: Pinch me, because this is not real,” she said with a smile, because the school she’ll be playing for – DePaul University in Chicago – has been her dream school since Day 1.
“It was the first one I looked at, the first college that I visited, did a camp for,” Ellison said, “and I love their coaching and their players.”
What feels like a dream is on track to becoming reality in less than a year, as the six-foot standout from Powhatan High School has committed to attending DePaul – and to playing Division I volleyball.
Ellison originally played softball when she younger, but when she was in fifth grade, she started playing beach volleyball, with her dad teaching her the game. She did one camp with Richmond Volleyball Club (RVC) – which she’s been part of for five years now – before trying out for the middle school team.
From there, Ellison’s gone on to make the varsity All-Region team twice, and she helped her Powhatan Indians win the Jefferson District during her high school career. At the club level, she’s been on RVC’s national team, and she contributed to a couple first places in tournaments.
Her most recent assistant coach from club, Clark Menger, has taught her so many life lessons.
“On and off the court, he is very psychological about the game of volleyball and basically a walking encyclopedia,” Ellison said smiling, “and he will talk to you forever about the game of volleyball.”
Clark, from Powhatan, is also the father of St. Catherine’s standout setter Quinn Menger, who is also Ellison’s best friend.
“She is the best volleyball player I know,” Ellison said of Menger.
Ellison is also friends with Claire Ellis, a standout Libero who also plays for St. Catherine’s. Ellison always looks to Ellis when she’s thinking about defense “because her defense is absolutely amazing.”
Ellison likes the nonstop moving of volleyball; she focuses on consistency when she’s on the court, and she brings power and height to the outside hitter position.
She’s also a reliable defender, able to go low and extend for incoming shots in order to keep points alive. She made 8 digs on Tuesday in Powhatan’s 3-0 sweep of Cosby. She’s been told that college coaches don’t just look at your ability to hit down as hard as you can – you also have to be able to play defense and serve-receive – so having that well-roundedness as a player is very important to Ellison.
The Powhatan senior is choosing DePaul for more than athletics. She’s looking to major in film, and according to an Aug. 16, 2018 report from The Hollywood Reporter, DePaul is ranked 13th among the top 25 film schools in America. Ellison also based her decision around wanting to be near a city in which she can find a job right out of college – as well as around the strong number of internship opportunities available.
And Lincoln Park, where DePaul’s main campus is located, is “beautiful,” Ellison described – “absolutely gorgeous.”
Her dream job is to be a director, but if she finds out she doesn’t want to do that, then working in the marketing aspect of movies is also among her interests.