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Clarion Grad, Butler County Community College Freshman Aryana Girvan Earns Junior College All-American Honor

CLARION, Pa. (EYT/D9) — Aryana Girvan certainly does not fit the profile of an outside hitter.

The Clarion Area High School graduate and freshman on the Butler County Community College volleyball team stands just 5-foot-2.

“Someone asked me just today if I was a libero,” Girvan said, laughing.

But what she lacks in height, she makes up for in leaping ability.

And tenacity.

(Pictured above, Aryana Girvan)

It helped her be a key cog in Clarion’s two PIAA Class A championships when she was a Bobcat. It also helped her earn all-state honors three times.

And now, at the next level, it has helped Girvan claim another big accolade.

National Junior College Athletic Association All-American.

Girvan was named to the second team on Tuesday, culminating a long and winding journey back to the full strength on the volleyball court — both physically and mentally.

“It’s very exciting,” Girvan said. “It was something that I honestly wasn’t really expecting. It was just nice to prove myself.”

Girvan felt she needed to do that after scuffling during her senior season at Clarion.

She battled injuries and personal issues. She admitted she lost the passion for the sport.

Despite all of that, she still had a strong season for the Bobcats, earning another all-state honor.

But she wasn’t happy.

“I went through so much last year, and I honestly almost gave up,” Girvan said. “I’m so happy playing volleyball again. I’m so happy with school, too, and I’m really proving myself and making myself and everyone else proud of me.”

Girvan led the Pioneers with 233 kills and also added 343 digs as BC3 went 18-6 and won yet another Division III Region 20 championship.

Girvan said it took her about three weeks to get back into a rhythm on the court.

“I remember telling (Pioneer volleyball coach Rob Snyder) early on, ‘I don’t actually play like this,’” Girvan said, laughing. “I really talked to him and he helped me out. I had a lot of shoulder problems in high school, so I was a little worried about that. But once I got into the flow of things, I started getting back to exactly where I was.”

That’s as a dominant force on the floor.

Girvan has always had to be crafty at the net because of her diminutive size. That was even more important at the next level.

Girvan, who also has a powerful swing, learned how to better negotiate blockers and not always hammer the ball as hard as she could.

“I don’t like getting blocked,” she said, chuckling. “It makes me mad. It makes me want to hit the ball harder. I learned pretty early on that I needed to tip and have a roll shot and do whatever I needed to do.”

Girvan has also learned she needs to take care of herself.

Her anxiety and depression became so several last year that she made frequent trips to the hospital.

“I was there almost once a week. Shaking. Having panic attacks,” Girvan said. “My depression was so bad that there were a couple of times that I almost gave up on myself, and I honestly didn’t think I’d be able to come back from it.”

Talking about it with a therapist, as well as her friends and family, helped Girvan get on the road to recovery.

“What helped me a lot was just being open about it,” Girvan said. “I’m really trying to be an advocate. A lot of kids are going through exactly what I went through and honestly just being open about it and hearing that other athletes and everyone else are going through the same thing has helped a ton.”

Girvan first noticed she had a problem when she began losing weight. Her smiling, giggling personality was also absent, especially on the volleyball court.

“I just wasn’t myself,” she said.

Girvan finally got the help she needed and was feeling better before she joined the BC3 volleyball team. Playing for the Pioneers was the last piece of the puzzle of her rebirth.

“When I stepped out onto that court for the first time with all of my teammates, that joy and spark was back,” Girvan said. “I was able to step on that court and have everything else in my life just go away.”

Girvan has one more year of volleyball left at BC3. Initially, she thought that would be it for her, but she has since decided that she wants to move on to play for a four-year college.

“I’m just not sure I’m ready to let volleyball go,” Girvan said. “If I still have two years that I can play, I might as well do it.”

Playing for one of the top junior college volleyball programs in the country will certainly give Girvan options after next year.

That All-American honor won’t hurt, either.

One day, Girvan would also like to be a volleyball coach. All that has been made possible by her new frame of mind.

“I’m a lot happier,” she said, “that’s for sure.”