STRATTANVILLE, Pa. (EYT/D9) — Ruby Smith was uncertain of her future.
The three-sport star at Clarion-Limestone wasn’t sure what she wanted to do beyond high school. Her many interests were converging and she was trying to sort it all out.
(Above, Clarion-Limestone senior Ruby Smith signs to play volleyball at the University of Pittsburgh-Bradford. She is flanked by her father, Ron Smith, and mother, Julie Smith. In the back row, from left, are Clarion-Limestone athletic director Brad Frazier, C-L volleyball coach Ryan Troupe and principal Mel Aaron.)
During her junior year, everything became clear.
Her passion for volleyball grew even deeper. She couldn’t imagine not swinging her powerful right arm at the net, or hitting the floor for a clutch dig and pass.
“I kind of realized volleyball was something that I love to do,” Smith said. “I love to play volleyball. It’s been a really nice outlet for me, and I think the pressure of college was a lot for me. When I’m playing, though, it helps with the stress.”
Smith has a lot less stress now.
The 5-foot-10 senior outside/middle hitter committed to play at the University of Pittsburgh-Bradford in the fall.
The school was a perfect blend of what Smith wanted: a small college with a strong volleyball program and a place where she could pursue a degree to become a physician’s assistant.
Smith was worried at first because she began the recruiting process late. But she garnered plenty of interest and Pitt-Bradford stood out.
“It turned out great,” Smith said. “I was really excited when I got an email back from (Pitt-Bradford coach Tom Roof). I filled out the recruiting form online and he got back to me super quick. I sent him film and it was a pretty easy process.”
The Panthers were 18-8 last season, losing to Penn State-Behrend in the Allegheny Mountain Collegiate Conference semifinals.
Smith also had interest from Chatham, but liked the rural setting of Pitt-Bradford over the city sprawl of Chatham.
Smith offers the Panthers a wide range of skills.
She recorded 110 kills, 99 digs, 26 blocks and 73 service aces for Clarion-Limestone this season. She was named second-team all-Keystone Shortway Athletic Conference and was a second-team selection on the Pennsylvania Volleyball Coaches Association all-District 9 team.
Smith takes a lot of pride to her ability as a full six-rotation player.
“I mean, I’ve always loved hitting — I’m kind of more known for hitting — but I’ve also really loved focusing on passing. I think I’m pretty consistent with both, and I work really hard at everything in volleyball to try to be a really well-rounded player.”
Clarion-Limestone volleyball coach Ryan Troupe said Smith’s versatility was her greatest strength.
All the things Smith was able to do for the Lions is rare for a middle.
“The variety of attacks Ruby can run makes her stand out in the conference,” Troupe said. “She’s mixing up tempos and working to stress out opposing blockers was a variety of routes. There are some fantastic players in the KSAC, but I don’t remember seeing any middle as versatile as she is. Whenever she wasn’t getting the ball, the blockers had to respect her, which allowed us one-on-one or one-on-zero opportunities with our other strong attackers.”
Smith cracked the starting lineup as a freshman and helped the Lions go from a struggling program to 12-3 this past season.
“Ruby was one of many instrumental players to help turn this program around,” Troupe added. “Ruby has seen the lows and high of the C-L program, but she had continued to trust in the process, her teammates and herself.”
Smith also became an important leader this season, Troupe said.
“Ruby is almost a mentor to our younger players to help grow their game, too,” he said. “They look up to her. Her work ethic goes beyond herself because she truly wants to see those around her achieve greatness. She’s a role-model-type players. She sets the bar and tries to lead others beyond that bar. Those leadership skills make her a wonderful teammate and will ultimately make her successful in life.”