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Standing tall on the v’ball court

Brooklyn’s own Hannah Cassius is one of the top female volleyball players in New York. She got her start playing wallyball at the Eastern Athletic Club (EAC) in Brooklyn Heights.

Cassius’s dad George, is the coach of the EAC’s world champion wallyball teams, for which Hannah has played in national tournaments.

At 17, Hannah has owned the court since she was a tot, learning how to bump and pass a ball as a toddler and watching wallyball at the EAC.

This past summer was a busy one for Cassius, as she was involved in a flurry of volleyball-related activities.

In July, she was selected to participate in the 2008 United States Scholar-Athlete Games at the University of Rhode Island since she is a member of National Society of High School Scholars and for two years has been the captain of the Fiorello H. LaGuardia High School varsity volleyball team. The Scholar Athlete program consisted of guest speakers, such as former Secretary of State Colin Powell, as well as volleyball training every day.

In addition to captaining the volleyball team at LaGuardia, Hannah is running for vice president of her senior class, carries a 4.0 GPA, and writes movie reviews for her school’s newspaper. She has also played varsity soccer and tennis, and is president of her school’s ping pong club.

Also in July she won her second gold medal with her partner, Magda Makarewicz, in doubles at the USA Junior Olympic Beach Volleyball Qualifier in Long Beach, NY. This year, the pair won the 18-and-under division; last year they won the 16-and-under bracket. “Beach volleyball is really different from indoors. It’s just you and your partner on the court. The wind and sun are added factors, and they make it a much more difficult game,” says Hannah, adding, “I like to serve with the wind because every serve becomes a float serve, and that’s a hard ball to pick up.”

In the round robin, the pair had lost to a team from Pittsburgh, PA, but they came back from six down in the finals to win, 21-17.

Hannah also played as a setter/libero for the New York City 18-and-under team at the Empire States Games played in Binghampton, NY, in late July. In this statewide version of the Olympics, the New York City team finished 5th. “It was great to see all of those dedicated and motivated athletes. The competition was the most intense I’ve ever seen, particularly in my age group,” she commented.

In August, she went to Brasil to visit family as well as the Hebraica Volleyball Club in Sao Paulo. There she met with the head of the volleyball program, Marcelo Dias, and witnessed how he trains hundreds of young volleyball players. Previously, the Cassius clan had organized a wallyball clinic at Hebraica. Hannah has also played volleyball on the beaches of Praia Fisica and Praia Azul in Portugal with her mom, Rose, who is Portuguese and also plays volleyball.

Now that school has started, Hannah has begun practicing with her LaGuardia varsity teammates for the upcoming season. “The team looks good. We’ve added some experienced freshman and have a good group of returning players. Some tough teams have been added to our pool, so it should be an exciting season with good competition,” she commented.

She will also continue to play club volleyball for the Starlings Garden Empire Volleyball Association team in New York. Last year, the Starlings won 3rd place in the Gold Division in California. This year, the New York team qualified for the Starlings Nationals in San Diego, but they did not go due to financial problems. “I’m proud to have participated at such a high level of play, and plan to take my volleyball to the college level next year,” she concluded.

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