What makes Northville senior middle Avry Nelson so dynamic isn’t her ability to move fluidly from pole to pole with exceptional speed; or her great hops and impeccable timing that frustrate opposing hitters and blockers.
And it’s not Nelson’s crazy-effective, last-second decision-making while hanging in the air that deflate the bigs on the other side of the net.
What makes Nelson one of the top high school middles in the state is a combination of all the above.
“Avry is one of the fastest middles in the state,” said Northville Head Coach Sarah Lindstrom. “She plays the position at such a high level; and with her height (Nelson is 6-foot-2), Avry is one of the best blockers Northville has ever had.
“She takes away space and makes it difficult for the other team’s offense to score, which helps our defense set up. On defense, we can always trust that Avry is going to get in the way of the ball and disrupt what our opponents are trying to do.”
(Check out a quick reel from Northville’s 3-0 District opening-round victory over Plymouth by clicking here.)
A key component on Northville’s 2022 team that advanced to the Division 1 state championship match, and an instrumental contributor in the Mustangs’ legitimate 2023 title chances, Nelson has combined with junior setter Ella Craggs to become a force on offense, as well.
“Because Avry is so quick and she gets up in the air so fast, it’s taken her and Ella a little time to connect,” Lindstrom added.
“But they’ve gotten into a really good groove this season. Avry’s pretty much unstoppable when we can get her the ball.”
Lindstrom said Nelson’s leadership skills have grown so much during her senior season that she was named a captain earlier this fall.
If not for the advanced hockey skills of her brother Isaac, Nelson may be doing her swinging and blocking in Arizona these days.
Change of climates
The Nelson family moved to metro-Detroit when Avry was in eighth grade after her slick-skating sibling tried out for and made an elite youth hockey program in a suburb of Hockeytown.
Thanks to her engaging personality, top-shelf smarts and athletic ability, Nelson fit in quickly with her new Northville surroundings and has excelled at school and sports ever since.
Having carved out a 3.8 grade-point average to go along with her elite volleyball acumen, Nelson has committed to play volleyball and study beginning in 2024 at Division 2 Eckerd College in St. Petersburg, Florida.
“I loved the community at Eckerd and the location is great — it’s right on the beach,” she said, smiling. “Their academic programs are great for the major I’m looking to pursue. As of now, I want to major in political science or international business. My dad is a lawyer, so I’m thinking about going down that path.”
Kills are great, Nelson admitted, but there is nothing that gets her adrenaline shifted into a higher gear than a solid, momentum-chancing block.
“It’s one of the best feelings in the world,” she said. “During the Beast of the East tournament, Jenison had a run going and one of their girls was getting a bunch of kills on us. On one play, I blocked her, which ended their run and got us going. Those are my favorite plays.”
Nelson said she gets more satisfaction out of team accomplishments than personal accolades.
“One of the highlights so far this season was beating Clarkston early in the season because we were still a newer, unproven team that had lost quite a few players from last year’s team,” she said.
Setting the tone
“No one really knew what to expect from us, but we came out, fought hard, gave it our all and won.”
Nelson said the support she receives from her family has help her elevate her game.
“Neither of my parents played volleyball, but once I started really getting into it, they learned about the sport and they love it now,” she said.
Ed Wright can be reached at 734-664-4657 or firstname.lastname@example.org