Sydney Shearn is one of only five seniors on a Sacred Heart volleyball team that has come on like gangbusters the last half of the season, beating No. 2 Assumption in two of three meetings and No. 1 Mercy. In winning the Seventh Region tournament, the Valkyries ousted defending state champion Assumption 3-0 in the semifinals and Christian Academy 3-0 in the final. No. 3 Sacred Heart will play No. 4 Notre Dame at 2 p.m. Friday in the first round of the state tournament at Valley. Another Sacred Heart senior, outside hitter Julia Boswell, is going to the Air Force Academy.
Courier-Journal: How long have you concentrated on just playing volleyball?
Shearn: Since the sixth grade. My mom and two aunts played volleyball here (at Sacred Heart), as did my cousins. It’s hard to play another sport because volleyball is year-round. I also play for Union in club ball and our first practice is the day after the state tournament.
CJ: Sacred Heart has a 27-12 record, but has won its last seven matches to boost its hopes for its first state title in 11 years. What caused the big turnaround?
Shearn: We refocused the last couple of months. Sacred Heart hasn’t been to state since 2009. We all pushed ourselves and came out with the same goal. The win over Mercy (3-2 on Oct. 16) was awesome. It was a nice way to end my home season.
CJ: How big was the Valkyries’ 2-1 win over Assumption on Oct. 4 in a tournament in Chicago?
Shearn: It gave us the confidence to win the other night (in the regional semifinals on Oct. 30). We’ve been playing well. We’ve come together at the right time. Friday’s match will be a big test for us. Notre Dame beat us earlier (3-1 on Oct. 11).
CJ: What would winning State mean to you?
Shearn: It would be awesome because it’s been so long. We haven’t won the region since 2009 and Sacred Heart’s last state title was in 2003.
CJ: You visited Loyola of Maryland, Kent State and U of L, but how did the Naval Academy attract your attention?
Shearn: When the Navy came down to see one of my best friends – Patricia Mattingly – play volleyball for Providence (in Clarksville, Ind.), they also recruited me as well. Patricia made her decision to go to Navy before me. When I got up there (Annapolis) for a visit, I fell in love with it.
CJ: What will you major in?
Shearn: English and political science. I plan to go to law school, but I must serve two or three years in the Navy first.
CJ: What takes up your free time?
Shearn: I watch “NCIS” (which has a Navy connection) and “Black List” on TV. I like to bake brownies, and I volunteer to help our athletic director (Donna Moir) and help at Oaklawn Nursing Home. Most of my time is training and getting ready for Navy. I run a lot and do a lot of pushups. They send you a schedule to follow. You don’t have to do it, but they recommend you do what it says.
School: Sacred Heart Academy.
Student-athlete: Sydney has a 3.95 GPA and scored 29 on the ACT. She is in the National Honor Society, Fellowship of Christian Athletes and is president of the school’s S TAT – Student Today, Alumni Tomorrow. She is a defensive specialist in volleyball, which she will play at the U. S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Md., where she will report on July 1.
Family: Sydney lives with her mother, Barbara, who played volleyball at Sacred Heart, and father, David. She has a brother, David, 23, and a sister, Annie, 22, who is working on her masters’ degree at the University of Louisville. Annie played field hockey for Sacred Heart.
Coach Eric Garvey: Sydney has the determination to keep the ball off the floor. She has good overall ball control and is willing to sacrifice her body to keep the ball off the floor and get a point. She is definitely one of our leaders. She plays the lebro position and never comes off the floor. That gives our other players a level of confidence. We’ve been playing well at the right time and she’s been a big part of that.