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McKyla Brooks emerging as bright spot in team’s bleak start

CHRISTOPHER CAMERON/THE STATESMAN
As of Sept. 17, McKyla Brooks (above, no.1) was shining as a freshman in the America East. She leads all freshmen in attack percentage and kills. CHRISTOPHER CAMERON/THE STATESMAN

While Stony Brook University’s volleyball team has seen better days, a bright spot has emerged in freshman middle hitter McKyla Brooks. The Blasdell, N.Y. native leads all America East freshmen in attack percentage (.289), kills (124) and has the seventh best kills per set ratio (2.76) as of Sept. 17. She is second on the Seawolves in kills per set and total kills as of then.

But Brooks was not always the volleyball player she is today.

“I first started volleyball when I was in seventh grade,” Brooks described. “No idea how to play volleyball, I just wanted to play… got on the team, terrible. Absolutely terrible.”

Her journey to Stony Brook took her past the middle school and travel levels, where she improved her craft. In her high school days at Frontier High School, located just outside of Buffalo, she became a two-time, first team All-State member as well as be a first-team All-Western New York member three times. Brooks became known for being an efficient hitter, with her percentage above .300 in her sophomore, junior and senior years.

According to Brooks, her first real adjustment was learning to handle the toughness of not only Division I volleyball, but also college in general.

“It was very hard coming in with everyone at the same level as you,” Brooks elaborated.“You have to work harder in the gym, in the weight room, classroom, just everything.  It’s a huge change, a big difference than high school.”

However, any challenges she had coming into Stony Brook seem to have subsided, judging by her red hot start.  Not only has she emerged as one of the top Seawolves on the team, she is also one of the better freshmen in the America East Conference. She was honored for this on Sept. 8, being named the America East Rookie of the Week.

Her week included a four-set Seawolves win against Holy Cross, in which she managed an attack percentage of .522 and score 15 kills.

Brooks’s quick rise has not been without bumps in the road, with blocking being her biggest struggle so far. Several times throughout Stony Brook’s Sept. 8 loss to Hofstra, head coach Coley Pawlikowski subbed Brooks out in favor of a lineup that produced more blocks.

“Blocking has been a very big struggle with me,” Brooks said. “It’s a faster pace.  I need to get out to the pins faster and close the block.”

At the end of the year, Brooks wants to be the best in blocking.

“My goal is to be best in blocking,” she said. “That’s my goal, to be the best blocker. I know I can hit, I know I can kinda sorta pass, but blocking is the key.”

Volleyball is not Brooks’ only forte.  She is a two-sport athlete and will be competing for the track and field team in the spring.  When she first joined the volleyball team, she had no idea whether or not she would be able to compete in her other passion.

“I was stunned that they actually allowed me to do track also,” she said.“This is the only school that would actually allow me to do track and it was just a great, great feeling that the coaches had my back.”

But for now, she looks to use her hot start to uplift her struggling volleyball team as they enter into America East play.

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