Burton reaches new heights at UAA
Robyn Burton has made University of Alaska Anchorage history.
Burton, a 2010 Chugiak High graduate, was the first Seawolves volleyball player named to the Daktronics NCAA Division II Volleyball All-American Third Team by sports information directors on Dec. 1.
Three days prior to her Daktronics selection, Burton earned second-team All-American honors from the American Volleyball Coaches Association.
“It’s a great feeling of accomplishment,” Burton said. “There’s a select few number of girls in the country that get that. Just being named with those top players is great.”
Burton, a unanimous first-team All-Great Northwest Athletic Conference selection, ranks third in the country in hitting percentage at .416, according to a UAA press release. She led the GNAC for a second consecutive season with 1.12 blocks per set and finished ninth in both kills per set (3.23) and points per set (3.91).
Burton said the Seawolves tight-knit team led to her success on the court.
“It was my team that helped me so much,” she said. “The team chemistry was just great, and it made each player want to do their best.”
Individual honors are made possible by the team’s success, UAA head coach Chris Green said. When the team performs well, UAA receives attention from the people who make the All-American selections, he said.
Burton always puts the team first, Green said.
“She’s a great teammate,” he said. “She does a good job every day in practice. She comes ready to go.”
Burton was the lone sophomore of the six middle blockers named to the Daktronics first, second and third teams. Just seven players are named to each Daktronics team.
Burton’s tremendous vertical leap enables her to hit over blocks, Green said.
“She jumps so well,” he said.
Burton also limits her errors, Green said.
“She doesn’t make a lot of mistakes,” he said.
Burton is a smart player, Green said. She knows when to go for the kill and when to just keep the ball in play, he said.
“If the set’s not quite right for her, she knows,” Green said. “She knows when she can be aggressive and when she can’t, and that’s hard for a lot of players to know that.”
Top attack percentage
Burton’s .365 attack percentage is currently the best in UAA program history. The previous school record of .333 was set by Tammy Middaugh in 1982.
Burton hit .500 or better in 12 matches this season, including a season-best .765 against in-state rival University of Alaska Fairbanks on Oct. 15.
Burton upped her game against conference foes.
She recorded league-bests in blocks per set (1.33) and hitting (.434) against GNAC opponents.
Burton was twice GNAC player of the week and was an all-tournament selection at the NCAA West Regional Championships and the Coyote Labor Day Classic in California.
All comes together
By the end of her sophomore year in high school, Burton’s timing and hitting clicked, and her game was taken to another level, Chugiak volleyball coach Kelly Kavanaugh said.
“She’s been strong ever since,” he said.
As an upperclassman, Burton was among the top players in the state, Kavanaugh said.
“She was probably one of the strongest middles around,” he said.
Kavanaugh said there was no doubt Burton could play at the collegiate level.
“She was definitely showing that potential early on. I felt she could have played at the (Division I) level,” he said.
As a coach that hears his players talk every season about competing in college, Kavanaugh said it was satisfying to see Burton realize her dream.
“Hopefully, they’ll be more Robyns to come,” he said.
No easy task
Burton’s achievements didn’t come easily.
During the season, Burton said she practices three hours a day, six days a week. She also lifts weights for an hour at least twice a week.
Burton said the team only takes a month off after the season, and she works out all summer to stay in shape.
“It’s a huge commitment,” Burton said. “It’s pretty much a full-time job.”
Experience was key
Having started as a freshman allowed Burton to improve this season, she said.
“Being able to play last year … it helped me to know what to expect this year coming in,” she said.
Burton’s stellar 2011 performance has set the bar high for next season.
“It’s a lot to live up to next year,” she said.
If anyone can exceed those expectations, it’s Burton, Green said.
“She is an outstanding player,” he said. “She’s improved a lot over the last couple years.”
But, Green said, Burton’s not even close to peaking.
“She still has a lot of potential to be even better,” he said, “which is a little scary for our opponents.”
Contact Mike Nesper at 694-2727 or firstname.lastname@example.org