Norwin grad Buchanan a 'blessing' for Grove City volleyball
After not clicking with any of the colleges she had visited before the start of her senior year of high school, 2015 Norwin grad Laura Buchanan took her mother's advice and visited Grove City.
As it turns out, mother did know best because from the very first moment she stepped foot on the Mercer County campus she knew she wanted to spend the next four years there getting an education and continuing her volleyball career.
“I just walked on the campus, and I really liked the way it looked, and I felt like it was the place,” Buchanan said. “I visited a few other schools around W. Pa. and stuff, and I wasn't into any of them.”
When Buchanan found out former Slippery Rock women's volleyball coach Erin Street had been hired as the Wolverines coach back in 2014, it made Buchanan's decision all that much easier as the 6-foot-3 junior volleyball standout has blossomed into one of the most dominant outside/middle hitters in the Presidents' Athletic Conference.
“Laura has grown into a promising young leader on and off the volleyball court,” said Street, now in her fourth season. “She has one of the best volleyball IQ's on the team. She can understand the more complex strategies and execute those strategies in game settings on a consistent basis against different opponents.”
Buchanan has been on fire as of late. She set a season high in kills with 24 as Grove City rolled past PAC rival Chatham, 3-1, last Thursday to keep the Wolverines in the middle of the 10-team PAC standings.
Buchanan helped lead Grove City (6-10, 4-3) to two consecutive wins to open the PAC schedule with a 2-0 record at a tri-match at W&J in early September. She had seven kills and five blocks in the Wolverines' 3-0 win over Waynesburg and tallied eight kills and four blocks in a 3-0 win over host W&J.
“We have a relatively smaller team this year, which I really like and you get to have a sense of community,” said Buchanan, who majors in biology. “In a game, if this doesn't work we can flip people here and there and see how things go. As the season goes on we're becoming more comfortable with that.”
She ranks sixth in kills (67) and fourth in blocks (20) in the PAC this season.
Buchanan has grown exponentially since taking the floor as a starter her freshmen year. She said she's paying everything forward by helping the younger players adjust to the academic and athletic life of a college athlete.
“I think after my first season, I realized what a privilege it is to play college sports,” Buchanan said. “The longer I've been here, I've learned to play for something bigger than myself.
“It's nice to see the other side of it now as a leader and nice to give back like past leaders have given back to me. I wanted to become someone who I wanted to look up to.”
Buchanan has set the bar pretty high. She was named to the PAC's Academic Honor Roll by earning greater than a 3.6 GPA. In addition to volleyball, Buchanan is a member of the women's basketball team, where she ranks fourth in career blocks after just two seasons.
“The best part is that Laura still has not fully reached her potential,” Street said. “She is still developing her physical skills, along with her mental game. Laura is a blessing to our program.”
William Whalen is a freelance writer.