Boys volleyball player Kyle Brumbaugh of James River is back on The Times-Dispatch’s All-Metro first team, this time as player of the year. It’s an honor his coach, Michael Blankenbecler, received nine years ago when he was a senior at Thomas Dale.
“I know he has VHS tapes from when he played, but I don’t own a VHS player so I’ve never seen him play,” Brumbaugh said.
“I’ve always heard he was a great player, so it is such a great honor to be held to such a high esteem. It is really exciting to be in that kind of company, because there have been a lot of great players that have won this honor before me.”
Brumbaugh finished his senior year with an area-leading 812 assists. Brumbaugh, a 5-foot-11 setter, also had 98 kills, 41 blocks, 39 aces and 236 digs. He was named Conference 3 player of the year and 6A state player of the year for the second consecutive year after winning his second consecutive state title.
“Coaching him was easy, but also very challenging. He is way smarter in volleyball than I was,” said Blankenbecler, who finished his senior year at Thomas Dale with 406 assists, 417 kills, 118 blocks and 26 aces.
“You have to keep him moving forward. So to be able to do that two years in a row and for him to just get better every year, that just shows how hard he works. He makes everyone on his team better and he makes the coaches work harder to make him better.”
Brumbaugh said he knew he had to work harder, because of his height.
“I always remember tryouts when I was in eighth grade, and being able to almost walk under the net,” Brumbaugh said.
“I am just grateful to Coach (Randy) Cox and Coach (Terry) Ford. They trusted me a lot when I was a 4-11 eighth-grader and 5-3 on varsity. I am also really thankful for everything Coach Blankenbecler has done. He has just been a great coach and a great mentor to