Old Bridge High School senior Aidan Albrecht, who helped lead the Knights to two conference titles, was selected to the American Volleyball Coaches Association’s All-America second team.
The Penn State-bound opposite/outside hitter and 2012 Home News Tribune Player of the Year is the first ever All-American high school volleyball player from New Jersey. This year’s group of 20 senior student-athletes, representing 16 high schools from seven states, was announced on Thursday.
High school seniors whose head coaches are AVCA members are the only players eligible for nomination.
“It’s a great honor to be selected,” Albrecht said. “I’ve practiced and worked hard the last couple of years and it’s now paying off. I’ve played opposite for most of this season. I like playing a big role in defense — being able to put the ball away.”
Of course, it helps to be tall, said Andrew Hopman, the coach of Old Bridge’s boys volleyball team since 2005.
“Well, he’s 6-feet, 7-inches,” Hopman noted, “and he has a lot of power when he hits the ball. When we’re doing hitting lines as we warm up for a game, Aidan intimidates our opponents because he pounds the ball so hard that it hits the ceiling.
“He has matured a lot mentally, especially in the last year. He’s always relaxed before a game, but he switches to focus totally on the game once it starts,” Hopman added.
The third-seeded Knights (21-9) ended their season on Wednesday with a 2-0 loss to East Brunswick in the NJSIAA sectional semifinals. Sparked by its All-American, the team snagged Greater Middlesex Conference Tournament titles in 2010 and 2012.
Hopman nominated two of his senior players in early May, and was delighted to get an email from the AVCA on Tuesday informing him of Albrecht’s selection to its seventh annual High School Senior All-America Team.
“Last year, he was listed as one of the Top 40 high school players in the country by the AVCA,” Hopman continued. “It was probably based on the fact that he was the first player from New Jersey to start for the National Youth USA Team – one of just 12 players in the country.”
Albrecht was again selected to play on the National Youth USA Team this year. Last summer, he participated in a two-week training camp with the team, then went to Mexico to compete with different countries for a bid to be part of this year’s world championships.
Albrecht, a four-year varsity volleyball starter, first got hooked on the sport when he was in eighth grade, playing pickup games near his lake house in Pennsylvania.
“I started with beach volleyball,” he said, adding that nobody in his family plays the sport. “As soon as I started playing, it was so much fun that I loved it right away. When I began practicing, I loved it even more.”
Though not sure yet about his career plans, Albrecht was clear about his college goals.
“I definitely want Penn State to win the national championship, and I want to continue enjoying volleyball,” Albrecht added.