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Power and consistency

Joe Everson Correspondent

She’s 5-foot-11 and still growing, but St. George’s junior Mariah Ostheller has had no second thoughts about pursuing her volleyball career at a Class B high school.

Ostheller has started for most of the past two seasons for the Dragons, who return everybody from a team that missed a return trip to state last year by dropping two straight matches in the district tournament.

“We expect to do really well this year,” Ostheller said. “We were pretty strong last season, but we had some team bonding issues and broke down in districts. We’re putting that stuff aside and expect to have a great season.”

If they do, Ostheller will be one big reason.

“She’s huge on the block, has a great jump serve and is offensively strong as well,” said coach Meredith Thompson. “Already this year, I’ve noticed that she’s more able to place the ball where she wants it, she has more power and consistency and is a leader on the floor.”

But Ostheller is by no means defined solely by her volleyball accomplishments. She plays softball in the spring at St. George’s and likes to ski and rock climb, both recreationally and as part of organized school groups. She returned earlier this week from a three-day backpacking trip with incoming ninth-graders, the only other high school student on the excursion and a member of the leadership team. And she has a 3.6 grade-point average.

She played club volleyball for two years, but when it conflicted with other activities which were also important to her, she gave it up. She had already learned something important about herself, though.

“I could play with the girls from the big programs, but it’s way more of a commitment, and requires a lot more attention and more focus than I’m comfortable with. I like being well-rounded and able to pursue all my options.”

Down the road, those include colleges with strong science and outdoor programs, like Lewis and Clark, Colorado College and the University of Montana. She may continue to play volleyball at that point, but probably not competitively, she says.

“I’m just not super-competitive,” she said, “and at a small school, it’s hard to get noticed a lot by college coaches. That’s fine, though, because it gives me more time for things I’ll pursue later in life.”

That doesn’t mean she lacks a passion for winning, says Thompson, just that she’s not an in-your-face sort of leader.

“Mariah’s a quiet leader, who makes her presence known on the court by her effort. The other kids know she’ll help lead the team with her skills and that she’ll make the big play at the right time.”

And Ostheller, finally, is a walking advertisement for St. George’s, which she loves for its small size and low teacher-student ratio.

“I get to know and enjoy everybody there,” she said. “I just love the school.”

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