Volleyball Player of the Year: McCann’s love of the game makes her the best

UPPER MERION >> The list of sports Emily McCann has played in her life is rather extensive. She’s played basketball, softball, soccer and competed in track.

Yet there was never any doubt which sport would be the focus of her athletic career. She’s a volleyball player. You might say that the senior from Archbishop Carroll was born to play the sport.

“I played most of those other sports in CYO,” Emily McCann said. “I still do track, but volleyball is my sport. I was playing volleyball right out the womb. At least that’s what everyone says.”

That’s not a surprise. Her father and coach, Brian McCann, was the one who introduced his daughter to the sport. He began playing volleyball while in college at La Salle and continued to play in adult leagues following graduation. Once he got married and started a family, going to his matches became a family affair.

The 2015 Daily Times Volleyball Player of the Year is Archbishop Carroll's Emily McCann. (Times Staff/Tom Kelly IV)
The 2015 Daily Times Volleyball Player of the Year is Archbishop Carroll’s Emily McCann. (Times Staff/Tom Kelly IV)

“I would be playing and she would be off on the side passing the ball to other people,” Brian McCann said.

McCann still competes in track as a thrower. Her best event is the javelin. She was second in the event at the Catholic League championships, third in the Delco and District 12 Class AAA championships and 28th at the PIAA championships.

However, that is just something to do on the side.

“My whole life has been volleyball,” Emily McCann said. “I’ve always been around it.”

Even at home.

“When she was 3- or 4-years old, she would grab me when I came home from work and we would pass in the living room,” Brian McCann said.

That surely had to go over well with Christine McCann, Brian’s wife and Emily’s mom.

“We made sure we moved all the breakables out of the way first,” Brian McCann said.

From those humble beginnings, McCann developed into one of the best players in Archbishop Carroll history, and the 2015 Daily Times Player of the Year in volleyball.

Joining McCann on the All-Delco volleyball team, which was selected by the Daily Times sports staff after consultation with county coaches, are: Carroll teammate Hannah Wright, Strath Haven’s Briana Fisher and Casey Blum, Penncrest’s Diana Balta, Melanie Malseed and Cardinal O’Hara’s Gabby Napoleon. Fisher is the only repeat selection. McCann, Malseed and Napoleon are seniors. The rest are juniors.

McCann’s career and season numbers are astounding. She finished her career with 1,709 assists, 1,078 digs and 922 kills. As a senior, McCann was second on the team in kills (208), aces (40), blocks (15), digs (124), assists (154) and service receptions (159).

McCann’s versatility is what set her apart from her peers. She was a setter for the first two years of her scholastic career and then moved to outside hitter as a junior.

“We moved her to outside and she did great,” Brian McCann said. “She’s just a volleyball player. You put your best kids in the best spots and try to figure a way to win, and she’s willing to do whatever it takes to win.”

Switching positions, though, was not a new experience. Emily McCann said was a libero until she was 13 and then moved to setter.

“She’s played middle,” Brian McCann said. “She’s played outside. She’s played hitter. She’s played every position on the floor.”

Still, it took some adjusting. She played outside hitter for the Patriots and was a setter on her club team, East Coast Power.

“It was tough,” McCann said. “Having that break, not hitting for the whole club season, was hard. I needed a couple of weeks to get back into it.”

The arrival of Wright, a powerful outside hitter who transferred to Carroll from St. Andrew’s Episcopal School in Austin, Texas, took some of the pressure off McCann and allowed her to be the versatile player that she is. She had 32 more kills and 37 more assists than she had as a junior.

With McCann and Wright leading the way, the Patriots went 16-3 and reached the Catholic League championship match for the first time in five years. Carroll’s only losses were to two of the top programs in the area. The Patriots fell to Archbishop Wood twice and Strath Haven.

“Hannah and I really clicked this year, even though it was her first year with us,” McCann said. “She’s very good with the court. She reads things pretty well and both of us having those skills, we just meshed.”

While she enjoyed playing on the outside, McCann is looking forward to college. And like her choice in sports, that was sort of pre-ordained, too. McCann will attend La Salle, which is the alma mater of her mother and father.

“There was no pressure to go there,” said McCann, who plans to major in the medical field. “It’s not like they talk about La Salle all the time, but they did tell me a lot about it and I think I’m going to enjoy it there. It’s close to home and they can watch me play and that’s nice. I’m so excited about going there.”

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