When the volleyball goes in the air, Northview senior Brylie Riddell is ready to get to work in all aspects of the game.
One of the most well-rounded players on the Wabash Valley scene in recent years, Riddell is on pace to become Northview’s all-time leader in kills, blocks, aces and victories.
The Knights are 13-4 already this season, and the 5-foot-11 senior needs just six more to become the winningest player in school history. She’s helped Northview to records of 31-4 in 2011, 29-5 in 2010 and 28-6 and a sectional crown in 2009.
The Knights’ leader this season in kills and blocks has impressed coach Scott McDonald for four years on both sides of the game.
Riddell is posting an average of 10.1 kills, 2.9 blocks and 2 aces per game so far this season.
“She’s right up there in terms of how she can dominate a game. Right up there with Lottie King with how she can take over a game both offensively and defensively,” McDonald said.
“She’s just a tremendous athlete. She can do everything on the volleyball floor.”
While Northview expected to match the last few year’s oustanding records, the young Knights got off to a slow start, including a loss to rival Terre Haute South in tournament play.
“The South loss was kind of a shock,” Riddell said. “A lot of the girls were down on themselves. You had to remind them that good teams can be beat and that we have to learn from our mistakes.”
The Knights returned plenty of talent this season, including sophomore hitters Shelbi Morris and Mckenzi Kumpf.
Riddell is the person the young team turns to when in need of guidance.
“Yes, it is different. I knew that coming in I would have to lead the team through their ups and downs,” Riddell said.
McDonald has observed his senior leader take over during timeouts, providing the veteran leadership the squad needs.
“Extremely intelligent as well. She came in to her own as a leader and captain on the team,” McDonald said. “The girls respect everything she does for us and how she goes about her business.”
Beginning with her freshman year, Riddell has been a go-to player for the Knights. In that 2009 season, senior Alyssa Clarke was lost to injury, and Riddell stepped up her game.
“As a freshman, she led us to our only class sectional championship,” McDonald said. “She and Brittany Long were our two main hitters on that team. She never gets excited. She just always stays calm.”
That performance set the tone for a big career, McDonald said.
“As a 14-year-old, it was amazing. She just does what she’s supposed to do. As far as competitor, she’s just a humble superstar. I compare her to [former Northview baseball standout] Brady Shoemaker,” McDonald said. “She spent a lot of time with a personal trainer and has gotten a lot stronger, jumps a lot higher. Just hoping this can be a good season for her to go out on. The rest of the girls feed off her work ethic.”
Riddell has continued to be a player to find during a pinch ever since her freshman year.
“Whenever there’s any doubt in the game situation, she’s going to get the ball because she’ll make the right decision. We want her to make the big swing for us,” McDonald said.
While Riddell’s ability to block at the net is one of her best skills, she also holds her own in the back row.
“I’m taking her off [the court] a little bit now just to rest her. In bigger games, she’ll play all the way around. Her experience of being a four-year varsity player … as many big games as she’s been in, you just can’t take that off the floor,” McDonald said.
Riddell said she hopes to play in college and has talked to a few collegiate coaches about that possibility.
For now, she thinks the Knights have a chance at another strong run in the state tournament when that time comes.
“We’re more athletic than we were my freshman year,” Riddell said. “We’re similar the way our chemistry is. Everybody gets along with everyone.”
Riddell said many of her teammates are stepping up this season.
“They all very willingly follow the lead. Especially Madison McDonald, she’s done very well stepping in as a freshman setter,” Riddell said. “Morgan Stearley has been a big hitter this year. Ashley Heck, she’s been our defensive specialist and done a really nice job. She helps improve our serve receive a lot.”
While the wins and statistics seem to stand out, Riddell just loves to play with her friends.
“The comraderie with your teammates. It wouldn’t be the same without those girls,” Riddell said.