All-Region Volleyball: Brooke Van Sickle

Oregon-bound senior leaves a legacy at Battle Ground

By Micah Rice, Columbian Sports Editor

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If you ask local volleyball coaches about Brooke Van Sickle, you’ll hear one word like a song on repeat — Complete.

There isn’t much the Battle Ground senior can’t do. There’s no position she can’t play.

This season, she led her team in kills (434), but had almost as many assists (365). She had a team-high 70 aces and averaged nearly nine digs per match.

But this season, Van Sickle had one thing that goes way beyond statistics — her health.

In April, she underwent surgery to repair a torn meniscus in her knee. The constant discomfort and post-game ice sessions of the previous season were history.

“Last year, every single ball that I would go for I would have this nagging pain,” she said. “It was a relief to be back to normal.”

And normal for Van Sickle is better than almost any high school player in the nation. She was recently named one of 24 first-team Under Armour All-Americans who will play in a showcase match Dec. 18 in Omaha, Neb.

For her achievements, Van Sickle is The Columbian’s All-Region volleyball player of the year for a second time.

Next fall, Van Sickle will move on to play for the University of Oregon. She’s excited about what lies ahead and equally proud of the legacy she will leave at Battle Ground.

In her four years on varsity, Battle Ground has gone from a Greater St. Helens League also-ran to one of the top programs in the state.

The Tigers finished third last year and fourth this year, losing narrowly in the semifinals to the eventual champion both times. Those are Battle Ground’s first trophies at the state volleyball tournament.

“My freshman year we would have like five people in our student section,” Van Sickle said. “My senior year we’ve had really good crowds. Even when we were playing at Camas, so many people from our community came over to support us.”

The high school season might be the most exciting part of Van Sickle’s volleyball season, but it’s just one segment of a sport that occupies her year-round.

After the fall high school season comes club volleyball in the winter and spring. Van Sickle then plays beach volleyball in the summer.

While recovering from surgery, Van Sickle spent three months not playing some form of volleyball for the first time in years.

The time away was a blessing in disguise.

“I’m so used to playing all the time and (volleyball) was just always there,” she said. “But having that time off made me realize how much I really enjoy volleyball. When I was younger I thought I was going to get burned out. But I think this helped my mental game more.”

Van Sickle’s mental game goes way beyond her enthusiasm on the court. She studies film and is hardly ever out of position.

Van Sickle has learned multiple positions through countless hours of practice. That will help her at Oregon, which listed her at the libero position when announcing her signing this month. At 5-foot-9, she’s shorter than most outside hitters in the Pac-12.

“Brooke is absolutely going to have an immediate impact,” Oregon coach Jim Moore said. “We don’t know where because she is such an incredibly versatile player. She’s a great all-around player with a great volleyball I.Q.”

And besides, Van Sickle doesn’t like hogging all the kills.

“I really like it when my teammates hit off of me,” she said. “Just seeing them get a really good kill and get super excited … it fires everybody up.”

Healthy again and far from burning out, Van Sickle is set to rocket to the next level of volleyball.

The rest of the All-Region first team

Madi Harter, Ridgefield
The versatile junior was the 2A Greater St. Helens League player of the year, leading the Spudders to 3rd place in state.

Page Heller, Columbia River
River’s attack ran through senior setter. On all-tournament team at state. Bound for Colorado State-Pueblo.

Kaila Robinson, Skyview
The junior is one of the 4A GSHL’s top hitters. Has verbally committed to Virginia Commonwealth.

Ashley Watkins, Battle Ground
The senior setter had 235 kills to go along with 467 assists. Has signed with the University of Montana.

Evi Wilson, Columbia River
The three-time 3A GSHL player of the year led River to second place in state. Plans to play at Eastern Washington.

Second-team All-Region

Sarena Bartley, Ridgefield
The 6-foot-3 junior was one of top forces at the net in the 2A GSHL. Among league leaders in kills and blocks.

Andrea Demlow, Columbia River
Steady and versatile, she was another key part of River’s run to 3A final with 27 kills in first three matches at state.

Anna Roche, Camas
Senior middle blocker was first-team all-league as Camas finished second in 4A Greater St. Helens League.

Kari Staples, King’s Way Christian
Her 356 kills averaged out to six per set. Led Knights to 1A state tournament. Will play at Northwest Nazarene.

Abby Wilmington, Columbia River
Junior middle blocker could also hit, recording 37 kills in four state matches. First team all-league for second time.

Hayley Yoder, Woodland
Senior became Woodland’s career leader in kills. Led ­Beavers to fourth place in 2A state tournament.