NEW KENT — Karley Allen doesn't have to go looking for motivation. It finds her.
Her sister's name is on the New Kent gymnasium wall for being the school's first female to score 1,000 points in basketball. Her brother was the Bay Rivers District basketball Player of the Year three years ago.
And her father, Eddie Allen, is a legend in the county for having spent the better part of four decades as New Kent's athletic director and state-championship-winning basketball coach. All of which had some students implying that Karley, now a senior, was handed a starting spot on the volleyball team as a freshman.
"People said it had to do with my dad or my brother and they didn't think I deserved it," she said. "That motivated me to prove myself."
She has. Allen was selected as Daily Press All-Stars girls volleyball Player of the Year following a season in which she was selected the Bay Rivers and Region I Player of the Year while leading the Trojans to the Group AA state tournament quarterfinals.
That was a goal, but not so much a motivator because she didn't think it possible.
"Going into the season, I didn't expect us to go to states," she said. "I thought it would be great if we could, but I just wanted us to have a good season."
Allen thought that because New Kent is one of the district's smallest schools, and the team was relatively inexperienced, it would make reaching state difficult. The same factors, she figured, would make individual recognition unlikely for her.
But New Kent's dependence on her experience and variety of skills made her as visible as anyone in the district.
"New Kent depends on Karley more than any other top team depends on one player," Grafton coach Dena Montini said.
Her dominance included notching 462 of the Trojans' 1,109 kills for the season. She tallied 588 of the team's 1,592 points on kills, blocks and aces.
"Karley's a very effective hitter and blocker, but she also led us as a passer, digger, server, setter and with her great court awareness," New Kent coach Erin Burnett said. "She's the whole package."
Those 462 kills were almost 100 more than any other player nominated for all-district or all-region, and her 371 digs were the most in the region for someone not playing as a libero (defensive specialist). Her 78 aces and 48 blocks ranked third among all-district and all-region candidates.
Of course, all of those numbers meant, as Montini implied, that the Trojans looked for Allen in most big situations.
"That's a great spot to be in, because you get the glory, but it comes with a lot of pressure," Allen said.
Allen is first on the all-time state list for spikes (2,925). Of the seven statistical categories in which she ranks in the state career top 10, four involve hitting. Thing is, the one night she felt she hit poorly this season was in the regional semifinal win over Courtland that earned the state tournament berth.
Her teammates, she said, played well, and that made the achievement of reaching state more satisfying.
"I played good defensively, but my hitting was terrible," she said. "It took the whole team to win, and it was a good feeling that my teammates had my back."
Karley Allen | New Kent | senior: The VHSL leader in spikes with 2,925, Allen — the Bay Rivers District and Region I Player of the Year — was the best player for the Group AA state quarterfinalists in every part of the court.
Monique St. Cyr | Jamestown | junior: Ranked fourth in state history for a season in aces (135) and second in service points (348), she became the state career leader with 913 service points. Led the region with 761 assists.
Ashley Lind | Grafton | senior: Often-dominant hitter earned first-team All-Region I honors in leading the Clippers to the regional semifinals.
Kelly Esch | Jamestown | junior: Region I first-team selection at outside hitter had great numbers — 367 kills, 317 digs and 35 blocks — for the AA state runner-up Eagles.
Briana Sutton | Jamestown | senior: Shoulder injury slowed last year's Daily Press Player of the Year, but the outside hitter made up for lost time with 225 kills, 283 digs and 87 aces.
Mackenzie Moughon | Mathews | senior: Region A Player of the Year led the Blue Devils to their second consecutive Group A Division 2 state title with 32 kills in a five-set win over Stuarts Draft in the championship match.
Rachel Close | Mathews | senior. Region A tournament MVP starred at libero, making key dig after key dig in the fifth set of Mathews' state championship victory.
Hannah Williams | Hampton Christian | junior. Division III first-team all-state hitter led the Warriors to the state final by setting a school season record with 540 kills.
Laura Killough | Hampton Roads Academy | junior. Defensive standout earned first-team Division II all-state honors on the strength of 404 kills and 92 percent serving.