WOODSTOCK — Savannah Bray ended her high school volleyball career this fall, but not before leaving her mark as arguably one of the best players in state history.

Bray’s personal stats were impressive, but her steely resolve on the court and her mental approach to the game were what stood out to those who know her best. The sport has given Bray plenty of opportunities already and is likely to provide even more in the future.

“She’s going to be a hard one to replace,” Etowah coach Kim Robertson said. “Players like her don’t come around often.”

A four-year starter, Bray finished her career with a state-record 2,304 kills and a team-record 2,314 digs. She led the state in kills this season with 734, while helping lead Etowah to the Class AAAAAAA state semifinals, out of arguably the most competitive region in the state.

Bray, already named the Georgia Player of the Year by the Georgia Volleyball Coaches Association, is the 2019 Cherokee Tribune Volleyball Player of the Year, winning the honor for the second straight year.

“It does mean a lot to win it back-to-back,” Bray said. “The freshman class that came into the county this year made each school so much better talent-wise, so to win it again this year means a lot.”

No volleyball player at Etowah will ever wear No. 3 again as Bray’s jersey has been retired by the school and will hang on the wall in the gym. She said having her jersey retired and attaining the state record in kills have been her proudest accomplishments, along doing her best to lead her younger teammates.

“The girls who held that record before me were amazing players, and for me to surpass them is pretty incredible,” Bray said. “It wasn’t always easy, I just always tried to give my best at every practice and every match.”

Bray said her older sister, Simmie, whose picture also hangs on the Wall of Fame in Etowah’s gym, inspired her to pursue volleyball. It was after her sophomore year that Savannah gained a full confidence in her game, and she credited Gabe Aramian, her coach with the Alpharetta-based A5 Volleyball club, with helping take her game to a higher level.

Aramian said Bray’s talent shines regardless of the competition.

“She’s probably one of the most developed players that I’ve personally coached over the years,” Aramian said. “I think she’s one of the best players in the country at her position, and I think her breaking the record for kills wasn’t a fluke. She’s one of the best players to ever come out of the state of Georgia.

“I could easily say her attacking or defense is where she’s improved the most over the years, but a large part of the game is the psychological part. You have to have that, and she does. You can be as tough as you want on her under the most pressure situation, and she always steps up and competes. She’ll never break down.”

Bray was in Africa this week with Aramian and other A5 players as the club traveled on its annual trip to promote the game of volleyball. Bray has traveled on similar trips to Japan and Italy over the past several years, and volleyball will lead her north beginning next year.

Bray will enroll at the U.S. Military Academy next summer, a decision she made for reasons beyond her sport. She said she will begin basic training in July before joining the Black Knights’ volleyball team at preseason practice in early August.

Bray is not deterred by the rigors of Army basic training, and with everything she has already accomplished, Bray is ready for a new challenge.

“Nobody expected me to go to Army, but there was just something about it. As soon as I went on the visit up there, I knew that was the place,” Bray said. “To have ‘West Point’ on your degree, I feel like I’ll be set for life. Honestly, I’m excited for it all.”

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