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Kettle Run’s Melvina Brown accepts college roster spot on West Virginia volleyball team

Wednesday, Feb. 19 | By Jeff Malmgren

Kettle Run's Melvina Brown will join the University of West Virginia volleyball team next season. --Fauquier Times Staff Photo/Randy Litzinger
Melvina Brown immediately encountered a fork in the road when she began planning her route out of Fauquier County and into college.

Run track, or play volleyball?

That wasn't a particularly tough decision, though. And, later, neither was committing to the West Virginia University volleyball team as a preferred walk-on after being offered a roster spot.

“I love track. I really do," said Brown, a seven-time state medalist at Kettle Run High. "But I’m one of the laziest people in the world. I love track, but I hate running."

Brown is really more of a jumper. That's why the senior excelled in the triple and long jumps during track season and flourished as an outside hitter during volleyball season.

She is only 5-foot-6, but has a 33.5-inch vertical leap. Her height, however, will likely limit her to back row duties in college with most teams featuring front-line players over 6-0.

"She’s an incredible passer" and will fit well in the back row, Kettle Run coach But West said. “The same athleticism you notice when you watch her hit is part of her passing, her speed side-to-side and her running up to dig a ball or running back to get a ball in the corner."

Brown, in fact, led Kettle Run this past season in both passer rating (2.3 out of 3) and digs (318).

She did not receive an athletic scholarship from WVU, but she might still secure some money. Brown said West Virginia coaches told her that a partial scholarship could become available for her as volleyball season nears.

“She belongs at the Division I level. Anyone who’s seen her play, they don’t have any doubt," West said. "She’s going to thrive. ... I think they’re going to be very lucky to have her."

Brown has visited West Virginia’s Morgantown campus three times – first when she attended a volleyball camp there in July.

“My mom was stressing me on [choosing] colleges,” Brown said. "I told her I definitely wanted to go for volleyball. She said, ‘OK, we’re just going to sign you up for a bunch of camps.'"

On the last day of that WVU camp, as Brown prepared to leave, Mountaineers volleyball coaches approached her and said they wanted to recruit her. Brown later exchanged emails with the coaches and then returned to Morgantown for a visit in October.

That's when they offered Brown a roster spot, something she never expected months earlier.

“When I was younger, I said, ‘I want to go D-I,’” Brown said. “But as I got older, I didn’t think it was realistic. … West Virginia is a pretty big school.”

The Mountaineers, who play in the Big 12 Conference, had one of their best volleyball seasons in history during 2013. They finished with a 20-13 record (5-11 Big 12), which was their first 20-win season since 1991.

Brown spent time with the team during her October and November visits.

"I kind of bonded with them," she said. "They’re a very family-based team. … There’s not drama."

"They know where each other is going to be [on the floor]. It’s weird to watch because they are in synch so much," Brown said. "They work like a machine."

Other colleges, such as Liberty University, also showed interest in Brown, but she preferred West Virginia.

"Once I went there and saw what it was like, I couldn’t picture myself anywhere else," she said. "From what I hear, that’s what supposed to happen."

As a Kettle Run senior, Brown had 54 aces and finished second on the team with 294 kills while leading the Cougars with a .465 kill percentage in the regular season. Her serve receive and defense will likely help WVU most, but she should get a chance to hit, too, once she earns playing time.

The coach "wants me to basically be a back row attacker," Brown said. "So I’ll still get to take swings. … But if you have a great passer, everything else will work out well. That’s what I want to contribute."

Brown also plans to study psychology at West Virginia. Perhaps she'll even find time for track.

George Mason actually recruited Brown as a track athlete.

"I wanted to figure out volleyball first and then figure track out," Brown said. "And my parents didn’t want me to [jeopardize volleyball opportunities]. They know I’m really clumsy and I might sprain something."

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