GVSU volleyball player Staci Brower uses height, skill to standout

GVL / Kevin Sielaff - Staci Brower (21) celebrates after a point scored. Grand Valley squares off against Ohio Dominican and claims the victory with a final score of 3-1.

Kevin Sielaff

GVL / Kevin Sielaff – Staci Brower (21) celebrates after a point scored. Grand Valley squares off against Ohio Dominican and claims the victory with a final score of 3-1.

Jake Carroll

Standing at 6 feet 1 inch tall, Grand Valley State volleyball star Staci Brower is currently taller than 18 NBA players.

Her impressive height helped her notch two All-GLIAC First Team honors as a sophomore and a freshman, as well as accumulate 34 solo blocks last season. With that statistic, Brower has the most solo blocks by any Laker since the 2000 season.

As a freshman, she was honored as the GLIAC Freshman of the Year, the second Laker in history to be named to the All-Conference team as a rookie.

Brower’s height has not always been an asset, though. In her sophomore year of high school, she suffered knee issues because of her rapid growth.

“I had grown quite a bit the summer before,” Brower said. “My IT bands were severely tight, and (they) wrap around a bursa in my knee causing my legs not being able to straighten very easily. Eventually, I needed to get injections in my knees to make the swelling go down.”

For some players being recruited out of high school, an injury like Brower’s might cause worry or doubt in their minds. However, regardless of her knee problems, Brower never had any doubt that she was going to GVSU. Ever since a tournament for her travel volleyball team hosted at GVSU, she knew where she wanted to go.

“I went to a tournament in Jenison during Staci’s sophomore year,” said Deanne Scanlon, GVSU volleyball head coach. “Nobody there is really ever all that good, but when I saw (Brower), I knew she could play.”

Brower verbally committed to GVSU early junior year of high school and officially signed as a senior.

Since she joined the team in the 2015 fall season, the Laker volleyball team has not beaten rival Ferris State with Brower on the roster.

“Every time we play them, I obviously really want to win,” Brower said. “I think this year I’m a lot more mentally focused, and I think the team is a lot more connected.”

Since 2015, the Lakers have won only five sets against Ferris State. The Bulldogs have won a total of 18.

Brower’s contribution to the team will certainly help against the powerhouse volleyball program that is Ferris State.

“Staci is by far one of the most hardworking people on this team,” said teammate Madilyn Keller. “She’s very dedicated and also a very giving person.”

There are not many players who can match Brower’s abilities. Her 119 total blocks were fourth in the GLIAC last season, and she finished the season third in blocks per set with 1.10. Her first team nomination was well-earned and well-deserved.

This season, Brower looks to improve her skills even more. Whether it’s becoming more mentally focused or better prepared to compete, Brower knows her approach this season needs to adapt.

“My freshman year I came in not really knowing what to expect,” Brower said. “I didn’t have a lot of confidence in myself (as a freshman). After going through the season and continuing to play well, I started to build confidence.”

That confidence continued to build throughout her sophomore season. Now that she is in her junior year, Brower’s confidence is at the same level of the artist of her favorite pre-game song, Kanye West.

Well, maybe not necessarily that high, but Brower’s confidence is soaring, and she’s playing volleyball the way she wants to play it. This upcoming season is going to be a big one for Brower, who has the GLIAC competition in the palm of her hand.