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DSU coach willing to wait for 'special player' in BV's Grage
By By Jill Meier
Challenger editor

February 05. 2014 10:16AM
Amy Veenhof has already tagged Brandon Valley’s Briana Grage as a “special player.”
The Lady Lynx senior, who’s headed to Air National Guard basic training on June 3, won’t even step foot on the Dakota State University campus until next January.

But the Trojans’ head volleyball coach is willing to wait for the all-around player.

“Bri came down to our summer camp, and overall, I just think her skills are good,” said Veenhof. “You don’t see that as much anymore, you see specialization. But overall – her passing, serving, front row play, back row play –is good.”

Grage, who will study exercise science and biology at DSU in pursuit of a career in physical therapy, had “specialized” as a middle hitter prior to her senior season at Brandon Valley.

“Actually, I had never played back row until this year. I’d been a middle hitter until my club team changed to me to right side because I was shortest on the team,” she recalled. “Then we had a tournament in the summer and I played left side.”

Lynx head coach Lindsey Smith has known Grage long before she reached the high school ranks, and has longtime knowledge of her passion for the game.

“Briana absolutely loves volleyball and it’s what she’s wanted to do since I met her, and it shows, as she played positions where we’ve always had a senior playing,” Smith said. “Briana has been such a good example of ‘if you want to do something, do it.’ And although the opportunity wasn’t always there, it was great to watch her shine this year and play a huge role for us on the outside.”

Smith said the daughter of Kevin and Marette Grage of Brandon is skilled in every aspect of the sport. “She’s pretty much played every position, so I feel when you throw her into the college level, that coach could ask her to play any position,” Smith said.

Once Grage gets on campus, Veenhof said the coaching staff will focus on individual skill improvement.

“She’ll get that before her first competitive season, which is huge,” Veenhof said. “The nice thing about what she’s doing is only going to benefit her.”

Smith, too, coins Grage as a “special player.”

“I think it’s amazing that DSU is going to be working with Briana and the fact that she is going into the Guard. It’s a growing program, a little smaller of a school, and I think she’ll fit in great there,” she said.

The Trojans are a member of the North Star Conference, which features Jamestown, Presentation, Mayville and Dickinson.

“We’re rebuilding,” Veenhof said. “We had a strong recruiting class in 2013, and we’re looking to having a good recruiting class this year.”

And Grage, who will redshirt next season to have four more seasons, is part of that effort.

“It’s kind of cool that I’ll still have four years after that,” she said. “So it’s pretty exciting.”

Brandon Valley senior Brina Grage has signed to play volleyball for Dakota State University. She's pictured with (frm left) DSU head coach Amy Veenhoff, assistant coach Mega Kusler, BVHS head coach Lindsey Smith, and her parents, Marette and Kevin Grage. Photo by Jill Meier

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