She is the kind of player who makes you stop and stare.
Even if you’re the one across the volleyball net from her.
“I know it’s fun to watch her, but you need to block her,” an opposing coach chastised after a sizzling kill whistled past one of her protégées.
YOU block her! seems a sensible reply.
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Because at 6 feet 4, Casey Schoenlein can be imposing and intimidating — especially when she elevates and gets a good swing at the ball or dares you to take one in her direction.
She’s ranked among the top 60 high-school seniors in the country by PrepVolleyball.com. And she is a key reason Newport High School is considered a contender for another Class 4A state trophy.
“A rare combination of power and coordination makes Schoenlein a tremendous prospect on the outside,” said John Tawa, founder and editor of PrepVolleyball.com. “She has a strong build and a big-time arm with the ability to put the ball away time and time again. Her blocking — armpits above the net — makes opponents contemplate going elsewhere to score or suffer the consequences.”
Schoenlein is used to standing out, in a match or at the mall.
“She can’t go anyplace without someone stopping her,” her mother, Kris, said. “She’s been asked a thousand times, ‘Do you play basketball? Do you play volleyball?’ ”
And, of course, “How’s the weather up there?”
Schoenlein just smiles in response. She has been more than a head taller than others her age for as long as she can remember. When she was 3 years old, people took her for a first-grader. The youngest of three, she is more than a half-foot taller than her sister and just an inch shorter than her brother.
Oh, and, yes, Schoenlein does play basketball in addition to volleyball. And water polo, where she makes a daunting goalie with a wingspan over 6 feet. But volleyball is her passion, one she will pursue at Washington State, which she chose over several other Division I schools, including UW.
“I love the atmosphere there,” she said.
With her height comes tall expectations, which she admits sometimes weighs on her. She doesn’t shoot a lot in basketball, because she feels bad when she misses a short shot.
“Most of the expectations come from myself, rather than other people,” Schoenlein said.
But she enjoys surprising those who expect a lack of coordination, thanks in part to her background in dance. Schoenlein enjoys acting and is part of Newport’s annual musicals.
And as much as she stands out on the volleyball court, Schoenlein is as high on humility as she is big hits.
Even when others stop and stare.
Sandy Ringer: 206-718-1512 or firstname.lastname@example.org