Senior Sarah Miller is in the record books at Newberry High School.
After Miller helped lead the Panthers’ volleyball team to four district titles—including two in Class 5A—and back-to-back Class 1A state championship game appearances, she leaves Newberry as the all-time assist leader with 1,367 assists.
“Setting the all-time assist record was awesome because it was an accomplishment that was truly a team effort,” Miller said. “I didn’t get assists without passes and most definitely not without kills from all of the hitters. To me that is one of the best parts about team sports, and volleyball especially, because you can’t get one without the other.”
Newberry coach Hank Rone said he let the players on the team pick captains this year, which is something he did in college, and Sarah was named one of the captains.
“With the crazy summer of doing virtual workouts, then working out live and not knowing if we would play, Sarah and Grace Oelrich kept things on track and were elected captains along with Katie Oxer,” Rone said. “That speaks to who you are as a person, to be voted captain by your teammates.”
Miller, the only Newberry player named MaxPreps Player of the Week, was instrumental in leading the Panthers (23-4 in 2020) to a state runner-up finish in Class 1A the past two seasons.
“She was our leader on the court and ran the offense in a very precise manner,” Rone said. “Sarah was really a true DS/Libero, but always put her team first and became a great setter for Newberry High.”
The senior led the Panthers with 736 assists this past season and finished second on the team with 254 digs.
Rone said her best characteristic as a setter was that she distributed the ball on her sets very evenly.
“She kept the opposing team at bay,” he said. “They never knew where she was going with the ball.”
Her best game ever as a setter came during the regional championship her junior season. In a 3-0 win against Williston, Miller had 43 assists in 75 attempts.
“Great accomplishment against a very solid opponent,” Rone said. “Sarah will be missed, but she leaves her legacy as a leader on and off the court, and the will to push her team to be perfect and perform at a high level.”
Sarah said that some of things that she will remember most about her time at Newberry were the times that her team spent together, not even playing volleyball.
“Playing volleyball for four years with many of the same girls, they truly become your family and we spend more time together than we spend with our families during volleyball seasons,” she explained. “When you go through hard conditionings, early mornings, and plenty of late nights, and accomplish everything we did the last two years, it’s truly memories you can’t forget and will always remember.”
Miller, who also played tennis for Newberry High School, said the whole experience was more than just about what happened on the court.
“Winning was awesome and going to state were great accomplishments, but I will truly always value and remember the relationships I had with every girl I played with and never forget the fun memories we all had together during some of the best and hardest days,” she said.
Miller graduated in the top 10 of her senior class and will attend the University of Florida in the fall.
This is the latest in our summer “Senior Spotlight” series recognizing some of the top area student athletes from the Class of 2021.