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Even in the summer, Freeport freshman Zoe Pawlak works on her game at an outdoor court in Valencia.
Top high school sports
By D.j. Vasil
Friday, July 6, 2012, 12:46 a.m.

Zoe Pawlak is in select company, and the 14-year-old volleyball standout from Freeport credits long hours in the gym for her being named to the USA Volleyball Select High Performance program.

The 5-foot-9 outside hitter, a rising freshman, is the only girl from Pennsylvania — and one of just 55 players in all — to be chosen. She trained with USA Volleyball last year.

“It's a really big honor to be on the team,” Pawlak said. “I've been working really hard, and I'm really glad to be on it.”

The national team will travel to Des Moines, Iowa, from July 19-29. Players will practice together for the first five days, then they will be divided into teams of 11.

The top 33 athletes will be placed onto the Select A1 Red, White and Blue team rosters to compete at the USA Volleyball High Performance Championships from July 24-28. The remaining 22 players will be placed onto the Select A2 Red and White teams and also will compete at the HPC.

Pawlak's accomplishments are even more impressive, considering she has only been playing for five years. She said she will put in three to four days of practice a week to prepare for the HPC.

Pawlak traveled to Columbus, Ohio, with her club, the 14 Black, to compete in a tournament from June 29 to Tuesday. She has been with the Renaissance National Volleyball Club since she was 11.

Freeport volleyball coach Tom Phillips has coached Pawlak the past two years while she played on the junior high team. Both years, the seventh-and-eighth-grade team finished undefeated and, according to Phillips, Pawlak was a big reason why.

Phillips is anticipating Pawlak's arrival at the varsity level.

“She's going to be a great edition,” Phillips said. “She's an extremely dedicated player, someone who will fit into our system well and will challenge for varsity playing time very early.”

Pawlak will look to use the experience at the HPC to help prepare her for varsity volleyball.

“I think that it will get me a lot of experience with playing with girls that are older than me,” she said. “It will also give me a lot of experience with new rotations and different atmospheres.”

D.J. Vasil is a freelance writer.

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