Killin’ it: Greencastle-Antrim senior Nakita Gearhart was a clear leader for the Blue Devils this year. She had a team-leading 170 kills and 52
Killin' it: Greencastle-Antrim senior Nakita Gearhart was a clear leader for the Blue Devils this year. She had a team-leading 170 kills and 52 blocks on the season. (Photo illustration by Markell DeLoatch/Public Opinion)
By LIZI ARBOGAST

@liziarbogast

Nakita Gearhart has been a force to be reckoned with since she stepped onto Greencastle-Antrim's volleyball court four years ago.

The four-year starter has showcased talents from being a team leader to making superb blocks to displaying her defensive prowess.

There is very little that Gearhart can't do.

"Nakita was our all-around best player," Greencastle coach Katie Lutz said. "It's hard to find a middle that can pass that well."

Gearhart is the Public Opinion Girls Volleyball Player of the Year for the second time - she was also named in 2010.

Over the last four years, Gearhart has continued to improve in a number of areas. First-year coach Lutz said one thing that stood out most to her about Gearhart's talents was her desire to continue improving.

"The thing I love about Nakita is that she's still coachable," Lutz said. "You don't think that she can get better, but she always does. She listens to you. If I wanted her to change something, she would do it in a heartbeat."

One thing in particular that Gearhart has been working to improve this year was her defensive game. She ended the season with 129 digs, which was second only to fellow senior Morgynn McKenzie.

"My defensive game has gotten better because before this year, I hadn't gotten to play in the back row," Gearhart said. "This year, coach let me play back there, so I just got better."

Gearhart started playing volleyball in the sixth grade when her aunt asked her to play for a winter league. She said she has always been interested in the sport because her sister, Kelsey, was a former Blue Devil star.

"I just like that it's a fast-paced game, so we're constantly moving," Gearhart said. "There's not a lot of dull time."

In addition to playing for the Blue Devils, Gearhart also plays on a club team in Chambersburg, the Revolution.

"She would play volleyball every day if you'd let her," Lutz said. "She's always looking for ways to make herself better. She's not the type of girl to say, 'I'm the best;' she's always looking for ways to improve."

In addition to playing year round, Gearhart also participates in track and field, where she throws the javelin and discus and she does the high jump. Gearhart said those events help her in volleyball as well.

Gearhart has racked up the accolades over the years. She is a four-time Public Opinion First-Team selection, in addition to being Player of the Year twice. This season, she was also honored as the Mid Penn Capital Division's MVP.

This fall, Gearhart was Greencastle's leader in kills with 170 and blocks with 52. She also had 32 aces, which tied for fourth on the team. She helped lead the Blue Devils to a 16-2 (15-1 MPC) record; their only divisonal loss was a 3-2 defeat at the hands of Gettysburg.

In addition to being the team's statistical leader, she was also a clear leader both on and off the court.

"With Nakita being amazing at hitting, passing and serving, every single person could look to her for advice and guidance," Lutz said. "She could do it all."

Gearhart is still exploring her options for college, but she does plan to continue playing. Right now, she is hoping to get into Juniata College to study pre-med.

"I'd definitely like to start on a team," Gearhart said. "I just want to have fun playing, but still make sure that I'm keeping up with my classes and school."

Lutz said she has high expectations for Gearhart's future in volleyball if she chooses to take that route.

"I think she has a gift; I think for a lot of people with volleyball, it comes easy to them, and that's how it is for her," Lutz said. "I just want her to go somewhere she's going to really enjoy herself and play as much as she can and have a memorable experience."

Much like her high school career.

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Lizi Arbogast can be reached at 262-4788 or larbogast@publicopinionnews.com.

Girls Volleyball Player of the Year

Name: Nakita Gearhart

School: Greencastle-Antrim

Grade: Senior

Position: Middle hitter

Height: 5-foot-11

Parents: Rick and Deanne Gearhart

Statistics: She had 170 kills, 32 aces, 52 blocks and 129 digs.

Honors: Mid Penn Capital Division MVP, 2011 P.O. First-Team selection, 2010 Public Opinion Player of the Year.

Club team: Revolution in Chambersburg

College: Plans to continue to playing volleyball in college; hopes to get into Juniata College to study pre-med.