Julia McClure is not like most volleyball players.
While most star players in New Jersey train throughout the year and play on club teams during the offseason, McClure does not have that luxury. As a three-sport athlete at Secaucus, McClure’s only training for volleyball is in August, right before the season, and during the season.
But it seems to work.
After posting 511 kills, 266 digs and 145 service points in her senior season to lead Secaucus to its first NJSIAA Group 1 title since 2006, McClure has been named the NJ.com/Star-Ledger Player of the Year.
“It was awesome,” McClure said of Secaucus’ run to a state title. “Never in a million years did I think that volleyball would be something that we would exceed in. We all played as a team and I’m glad that we finally put it together my senior year. It was well deserved.”
McClure admits that she is not completely fluent in volleyball. As a freshman, she wanted to play soccer, but she was convinced to switch sports by volleyball coach Sheila Rivera.
“It’s not that I don’t know volleyball, it’s just something that I don’t have a large knowledge of,” McClure said. “I just came to play this year. I didn’t really have any goals.”
Along the way, McClure eclipsed 1,000 kills for her career as she made a case as one of the most complete players to ever pass through the storied Secaucus program.
“I couldn’t have done it without my teammates,” McClure said. “They push me to work hard and practice like its a game. Carleshia (Forteau), our blocker, is one of the people that has made me who I am and I’ve worked with her and my assistant coaches on the blocks.”
This year, Secaucus finished 33-2, giving it the second-most victories in the state, and wound up No. 3 in the final NJ.com Top 20, losing only by No. 1 Immaculate Heart. Secaucus had a 29-match win streak between those losses and reached the semifinals of the Tournament of Champions after beating No. 8 Bogota in the Group 1 final.
“Once we played Hudson Catholic in the county tournament, I felt like that was our turning point,” McClure said. “That was one of the best games, as a whole, that our team has played this season. We played like that and then we practiced really hard the next day and coach told us how we got better in one day and said this was our year. We knew by the passion we all had to come together and win this. You knew that this was our year.”
McClure was not the only key player on a talented lineup for the Hudson County program. Setter Kendall Caruso finished with 695 assists, outside hitter Katelyn Schlemm posted 198 kills and libero Andie Lennon totaled 268 digs.