Sarah (Simmons) Strickland

A three-year starting middle hitter for the Avon Lake girls volleyball team, Sarah Strickland (maiden name Sarah Simmons), set single-season school records her senior year in kills (283), service aces (66) and attack percentage (61 percent). Leading her team to a SWC championship her senior year, Strickland was voted the team MVP, Offensive MVP and SWC MVP as a senior. She was also a first team All-SWC, All-Lorain County and All-District selection, as well as an All-Ohio second team pick.

Voted the MVP of the Normandy Tournament and the Betsy Zimmerman Tournament, Strickland was named the Player of the Year by numerous media outlets her senior year. Her high school volleyball career ended with the prestigious Lorain County Miss Volleyball Award, which is given to the most outstanding volleyball player in Lorain County, taking the student’s athletic abilities into account, along with their academic achievements and sportsmanship.

As a junior, Strickland helped lead the Shoregals to a district championship and was an All-District first team pick. She also landed on the All-SWC and All-Lorain County second teams and was the only junior selected for the Normandy Tournament’s All-Tournament team.

As a two-year starting center for the Avon Lake girls basketball team, Strickland was a Lorain County and Greater Cleveland all-star and an All-Lorain County first team member, an All-SWC second team member and an All-District third team choice.

A member of the National Honor Society, Strickland also excelled in the classroom with a 4.0 GPA as an Honors student. She also received the OHSAA Scholar Athletic Award and was the SWC Scholar Athlete her senior year.

Strickland received a full scholarship to play Division I volleyball at Syracuse University. After a medical red-shirt due to back injury in 1996, Strickland earned the Syracuse Athletic Department Abbie Bigelow award for courage for battling back from her freshman season-ending injury.

In 1998, Strickland was voted the team’s Most Improved Player and posted career highs in hitting percentage (.600) and block-assists (six). In 1999, she was the team’s starting middle blocker and played in all 37 matches. She was second on the team and fourth in the Big East with 1.22 blocks per game and led the team with a .271 hitting percentage. Strickland posted career-highs in kills (14) and total blocks (12). She also finished third in all-time block assists at Syracuse with 129 and holds the all-time single season record.

A member of the athletic director’s honor roll from 1996-2000, Strickland was named to the Big East Academic Honor Roll three times and was a Big East Academic All-Star in 1997, 1999 and 2000.

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