-Position: Outside hitter
-High school: The Madeira School
-College: Duke University
-Club team: Virginia Elite
-Trainer: Lili Liu, former Chinese National team player
-Favorite athletes: Kerri Walsh, Kristin Richards
Breanna Atkinson could hardly contain her excitement upon learning she had been selected as an Under Armour First-Team All-American by the American Volleyball Coaches Association.
“I was walking towards my car and my coach [Kim Adams] - she is supper peppy and funny. She ran up to me and started screaming and telling me,” said Atkinson, an Ashburn resident who attends The Madeira School in McLean.
“I freaked out. I wasn’t expecting it all. For about two days all I would do is scream.”
Atkinson was one of 24 high school seniors from across the nation selected on the first team. Loudoun County High School senior Gabby Serafin was an honorable mention selection.
Atkinson, a 6-foot outside hitter, will compete in the 2011 Under Armour All-America Volleyball Match & Skills Competition Dec. 16 in San Antonio, Texas. The event will be shown by ESPNU on tape delay Dec. 26 at 7 p.m.
“I’ve watched it every single year since seventh grade,” Atkinson said.
The All-American honors continue a magical year for Atkinson, who was initially hesitant about playing volleyball when the sport was introduced to her in seventh grade.
“At first, I didn’t want to,” Atkinson said of volleyball after being persuaded to play by coaches at Temple Baptist School in Herndon. “But I ended up loving it so I stuck with it.”
Atkinson’s skill set blossomed over the next few years and college programs took notice. Atkinson verbally committed to Duke University in the summer after her sophomore year. She was also interested in Florida State, Stanford, Florida and Brigham Young University, where her father Kenneth competed in track and field from 1982-1985.
Atkinson made her college choice official earlier this fall when she signed her national letter of intent to Duke.
“I really like Duke a lot because of the academics. It’s a great school,” she said. “They also have great athletics, too. To me, there are only two schools that really have that, Stanford and Duke. And the location is great, not too close, not too far.”
Atkinson earned selection by USA Volleyball as an alternate on the U.S. Girls Youth National Team roster for the 2011 FIVB Girls Youth World Championship earlier this summer.
In her final high school season, Atkinson helped Madeira win the Virginia Independent Schools Athletic Association Division I state championship. Atkinson was named VISAA Player of the Year for her efforts.
Atkinson will now turn her attention to the All-America match. She will test her skill set among the nation’s best players, several of whom she trained with this summer through USA Volleyball.
“I’m just hoping that I’ve improved at a faster rate than they have,” Atkinson said. “My goal is to just play my best and have fun.”
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