Westwood athlete breaks 1K assists, recognized nationally

paigeWestwood High School Senior Paige Etherington has worked all summer on improving the number of assists she completes on the volleyball court by 30 percent. She has now surpassed her goal, assisting for more than 1,000 points and has grabbed the attention of national sports media.

Paige was named the HUDL National Player of the Week during September after her impressive stats caught the attention of the sports organization, which compiles sports reels for coaches. Paige is the national leader for assists in women’s volleyball.

A key skill that helped Paige improve is her trademark of reading opposing players. Whether the other team’s defender is going right or left, Paige has a distinct ability to be one step ahead, assisting Westwood hitters gain points with confidence.

“I’m definitely academically driven and that’s led me to focus more on a strategic point of the game,” Paige said. “Instead of power, I focus on placement and different strategies, which lead to playing mind games with the other side. I look at the court a different way than a regular player and that sets me apart.”

Tara Nelson, Westwood head varsity volleyball coach, has coached Paige for four consecutive years and said she has been a huge factor in the success of the team. Setters operate much like quarterbacks in football, making calls on plays and running the team’s offense. Paige’s awareness of the opponent is essential to Paige’s success, Nelson said.

“Being a setter is not typically a position that receives a lot of recognition, but it is one of the most crucial positions on the court,” Nelson said. “I have seen Paige improve immensely each year and I think that is a tribute not only to her work ethic, but the way she is always wanting to learn more about the game to help further her team’s success.”

Paige’s success and dedication to volleyball doesn’t stop at Westwood. She has regularly volunteered as a volleyball coach at the Town and Country Optimist Club, which runs youth sports teams.

“Watching the young athletes grow is so validating,” Paige said. “There’s such a big sense of community in volleyball and it’s fun to see the girls I coach play the same sport that I love.”