RIVERVIEW — Sarah Burrington has always stood out in a crowd.
Taller than most every girl, and guy for that matter, in her classes, Burrington's 6-foot-4 frame is enough to make basketball coaches drool.
So Burrington gave it a try in middle school. She pulled on a jersey, played in the paint and found the physical play to be, well, a bit too physical.
"Look at this," Burrington said pointing to a scar on her wrist. "It was a little too rough, so I switched to volleyball."
And Riverview couldn't be happier.
Burrington is a big reason the Sharks have history on their minds. Riverview won its first district title last season and hopes to set another first this season with consecutive postseason appearances.
"We know teams know who we are now, and they want to come out and beat us," said Burrington, a senior. "It's a new challenge."
The challenge doesn't get any easier Monday night when the Sharks play host to Plant, which has its own talented middle hitter in 6-3 Brynne Fruhmorgen. While not in the Sharks' district, the Panthers should prove to be a tough test.
And getting back to the postseason this year has proved to be a challenge for the Sharks and Burrington, who has committed to Florida State. Riverview lost five seniors from last season, and illness slowed Burrington earlier this season.
"It was so tough watching and not being able to play," she said. "My throat felt like it was on fire, but the emotional pain of not being able to do what you're passionate about was worse than the physical pain."
Burrington sat out two weeks with what she called "either strep throat or mononucleosis" and played only on the front line during the recent Wharton Tournament. Her first match in full rotation came Tuesday against Bloomingdale, when the Bulls overcame a 2-0 deficit to win 3-2.
"It killed me to sit there and have to watch, especially since it wasn't an injury that kept me out," Burrington said.
Burrington, who was recognized by Prep Volleyball as a sophomore and junior for her excellent play, chose the Seminoles after making an instant connection with the coaches and players.
"The coaches were what separated it for me," said Burrington, who also considered Kentucky and North Carolina. "The girls made everything feel like home."
Although Burrington's height dominates the court, the Sharks (12-5 through Wednesday's play) don't run everything through her offensively.
Riverview has four regulars with at least two kills per match.
"It's best to be that way," Burrington said. "We want to be as multifaceted as possible."
Burrington said that although her height affords her the opportunity to hit over most players and provides an advantage in vision, being the tallest girl around isn't all aces.
"Sometimes, it's a disadvantage because it's tougher for me to get down low and dig shots," she said.
"But all around, the advantages outweigh the negatives, so I'll take it."
Brandon Wright can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.