February 23, 2021 – By NJP
Taylor Grady is coming off a standout freshman year for Pascack Valley in a year of rebuilding for a team that finished 6-13. This young team is preparing for the upcoming Spring season with a new outlook and almost all of their varsity team returning for 2021 as well as every one of their starters.
The Big North brings a sea of competitiveness, and PV will have to be ready to weather the storm. NJP projects Pascack Valley to move up the ranking ladder by 50 and have earned a #63 ranking in a state with over 300 high school teams. We have PV 12th of 38 teams in the Big North. So, we expect a rough ride, but one where this up and coming team will look forward to showing their improvement.
Taylor is a picture of versatility. She is a solid setter with an outstanding VBIQ that can lead and orchestrate the PV attack. She has had reps at back row and outside and has even shifted over to play opposite hitter when needed. She has the ability to make quick and smart decisions on the floor and the strategic vision to get the most out of her teammates.
This club season, she is playing up for the Xtreme 17-1 National squad, one of the top girls club teams in NJ. Her high school journey will continue to produce learning opportunities and we will see this development through the Spring season and beyond. By the time Taylor is a senior, she has the potential to be a dominant force on the volleyball floor for PV, as well as a highly recruited student at the NCAA collegiate level.
Here is our interview with Ms. Grady…
Tell us a bit about yourself, Taylor?
My name is Taylor Grady and I’m a sophomore at Pascack Valley high school. I live with my mom, dad, and sister, Jessica in Hillsdale. They’ve always encouraged me to stay active throughout my life and to push myself. I’ve been a varsity starter for Pascack Valley since freshman year. I am also on the Xtreme 17 National, playing up one year.
How long have you played volleyball and what inspired you to take up volleyball initially?
I’ve played volleyball since I was 11 and competitively started 1 year later. I’ve played sports throughout my life and volleyball was something new to try. I didn’t have high hopes when I began, yet once I started I fell in love. My Aunt Samantha inspired me to compete when I was 12. She pushed me to join various clubs, which is how I found Xtreme.
What are your metrics/details? Height, vertical, position, club team, etc. What’s your favorite position to play?
I am 5’7 with a 26 inch vertical. My favorite position is definitely setting, however I’m proud to be versatile player as well. I love the fact that my coach trusts me to put me in other positions if needed. It has helped my skills as an all-around player, as I’m not just a setter or a DS, but a volleyball player who can work hard in any position.
Tell us about your PV teammates. Who do you expect will be this year’s standout and up and coming players?
I think Varsity is pretty much decided on because our starting line up is the same as last year. It’s hard to say who will standout because when you talk about a team, it’s a group of talented people who come together to compete, not just one person. We have so many talented, amazing, and super funny players at PV. They welcomed me immediately into their team as one of their own. We have a lot of potential and we are very bonded. I believe this will take us far in our upcoming season. I will say that Sabrina Arcilla was the only other freshman who made Varsity with me. She’s a strong player who will be playing high school with me till Senior year.
NJP considers you as one of the top players in the state in your age group. As a sophomore, are you already considering your college choices? What do you plan to study in college or what is your career path?
Yes, I tend to plan ahead especially since I am extremely excited about college. I have a couple of colleges in mind thus far, but I still need to do so much more research. I would like to major in criminology/ criminal justice and still play competitive volleyball. My dream would be to work as an SSA in the FBI.
Tell us about your club experience at Xtreme.
I began playing for Xtreme in 7th grade. I was only 12, but I played with the 14’s. That was the year I discovered my passion for volleyball. My parents would drive an hour, 3 times a week to take me to Xtreme because we knew Xtreme was different from other clubs. The coaches are extremely detail-oriented, especially when I set and they taught me how to understand the game. It is now my 3rd year with Xtreme and I couldn’t be happier. My teammates are my family and we have an unbreakable bond that shows on the court. We currently have a killer team with powerful hitters and precise defenders. We are working so hard to go to Nationals.
You had a solid freshman season for PV. What are your goals for the remainder of your high school career?
To continue my high school career, I want PV to become a more competitive team. Last year, we were a new team still figuring out connections and technique, but this year we will be more well-rounded. In my Junior and Senior year, I hope to be a Captain alongside Sabrina Arcilla.
Tell us about your current coaches at both Xtreme and Pascack Valley…
Lynette Chen, club, and Katlynn Lewis, PV, have very different coaching styles. Coach Lynette is intense, animated, passionate, and very loud, although I wouldn’t want it any other way. She focuses a lot on technique, quick offense, and exact passing. She’ll give us different types of drills, some more intense than the other and she periodically stops in the middle of every drill to critique us. We do serve receive every practice anywhere between 30 minutes to an hour because she knows it’s crucial. I really respect her as a coach, because her love for the game is so prominent. On the other hand, Coach Lewis is definitely more mellow, but that doesn’t make her any less of a coach. She’s a very positive outlet I feel I can always go to for help. She’s always supportive during games and makes the best decisions to win. Lewis arranges some type of hitting lines to better the connection with hitters and setters. Although less experienced as a coach, I believe she is an excellent coach that will guide our team far.
What do you like best about being a setter?
There is so much about setting that people don’t know about. It’s a particularly difficult position because it’s not only technical, but a setter must think fast on their feet. I love the challenge and control, knowing who my “hot hitters” are, who’s passing, and where the blockers are, while I try to hide who I’m setting to is one of the reasons I find setting challenging, but loveable. Setter’s are primarily the quarterbacks of the team. They’re there to do the deciding and I thrive in those situations.
Who is your support group?
My parents and Grandma are my support group. They’ve encouraged me during my volleyball career, whether that be paying for privates or driving me countless hours to Xtreme just for practice. I’ve appreciated all they’ve done for me. My Grandma constantly makes sure I have new shoes, knee pads, and ankle braces for volleyball. Every year she buys new merchandise to support my dream. I couldn’t be more fortunate to have her alongside me all these years while I grew.
What are your other hobbies or interests?
During the summer, I play beach volleyball with my partner Vendela Moyer. We usually play in Women’s A where we meet so many interesting people. I enjoy playing beach because it keeps me in shape and it’s an enjoyable summer activity that will keep my hands on a ball. Vendela and I are hoping to place higher in 2021 than we did last year. Our best was 3rd at Point Pleasant!
Who is your favorite college or pro volleyball player and why?
Taylor Crabb is my favorite pro beach volleyball player. He reminds me of what I aspire to be in the future as a volleyball player. He is quick, accurate, and versatile and whether it be indoor or beach, my goal is to be similar to Taylor Crabb’s agility and technique.
What else would you like us to know about you?
Is there a teacher or coach who really helped you along the way? My Aunt Sam is my biggest supporter and the best coach I’ve ever had. She would drive out of her way to pepper with me and teach me the right technique when I was younger. Now we will play beach volleyball or practice in her yard to prepare for upcoming seasons. Moreover, Sam coached me during my first year of Xtreme with Braulio Rivera. She was pretty tough on me and I would cry, though the older I got, the more I understood that she wanted me to be the best I could be and only yelled at me because she knew I could do better.