Lizzy Briones had a hand in half of Siloam Springs' six consecutive state volleyball championships, but she still laments the one that got away.
The Lady Panthers won the first set against Nettleton, before the Lady Raiders came back to win the next three and the match to stop that streak on Oct. 30, 2010.
At A Glance
SCHOOL - Siloam Springs
SPORT - Volleyball
YEAR GRADUATED - 2010
EMPLOYED BY USA - Volleyball
CURRENT RESIDENCE - Colorado Springs, Colo.
NOTABLE - Named Gatorade Arkansas High School Volleyball Player of the Year in 2010 and four-time all-state selection at Siloam Springs … Helped Siloam Springs to three state volleyball championships, before losing in the finals her senior season to snap a string of 6 titles in a row for the Lady Panthers. … Serves as a coordinator for the high-performance program for USA Volleyball in Colorado Springs. … Enjoyed a stellar college volleyball career at James Madison and still ranks as the career leader in total blocks (495), second in block average (1.13) and block assists (434) and seventh in sets plays (440).
"That was a dagger," said Briones, who had a match-high 31 kills to go with 10 block assists in her final high school match. "At the time, it was like the end of the world. I couldn't believe we lost."
The 25-year-old moved on to have a stellar college career at James Madison. The 6-foot middle blocker finished as one of the top blockers in school history and still ranks as the career leader in total blocks (495).
She's even found a career path that currently includes both volleyball and her business school training as a coordinator of the high-performance program at USA Volleyball in Colorado Springs.
That path had a couple twists and turns.
Briones figured out she missed volleyball while serving an internship with Schnucks grocery store in St. Louis. So she came back to James Madison as a volunteer assistant coach, but that wasn't the answer for her either.
"I figured out coaching wasn't for me either," Briones said. "It was like 'I have no idea what I'm doing here?' It's just crazy I found this job with USA Volleyball. I was lucky knowing that I wanted to do something with the business component, but also something sports-related. This was the perfect combination."
Her high school coach Rose Cheek isn't surprised Briones has continued to be successful.
"One thing I know is when Lizzy Briones is determined to have something, it's going to work out," Cheek said. "She's transferred that determination from the court to what she wanted to do in her life.
"I watched Lizzy grow so much. I moved her up to senior high team as a freshman and you could see then that God had blessed her with so much ability."
She's spent more than two years in Colorado Springs helping other coordinators to put on girls and boys camps nationwide for the high-performance program across the country. She also oversees two youth national teams and this year Briones is in charge of two boys age groups this year.
Briones credited Cheek and her parents with keeping her grounded and being able to deal with whatever comes her way.
"I meet hundreds of coaches and being able to communicate with people and getting them to work with me and for me is big," she said.Sports on 07/04/2018
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