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Buchanan ready to make most chance to play volleyball at Limestone

Posted: June 2, 2016 2:37 p.m.
Updated: June 3, 2016 1:00 a.m.
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CAMDEN HIGH’S EMMA BUCHANAN signed a National Letter of Intent to continue her academic and volleyball-playing pursuits at Limestone College while flanked by her parents, Laurie and Kenny Buchanan, along with her sister, Audrey Buchanan. Standing, from left, are Camden High athletics director Jimmy Neal, CHS assistant volleyball coach Abby Spitzer, CHS head varsity volleyball coach Paige Wilson and CHS principal Dan Matthews.

Not being able to play volleyball in college was hardly the end-all, be-all for Emma Buchanan. When opportunity knocked, though, she never hesitated in swinging open the door.

Buchanan, a recent graduate of Camden High School, prepared herself to leave volleyball in the rear-view mirror after accepting a full academic scholarship to attend Limestone College where she will major in biology. Then, fate stepped in.

“I visited on the spur of the moment and I really fell in love with the college,” she said of her decision to attend the Gaffney institution. “I ended up getting a full academic ride and just (three weeks) ago, I talked to the volleyball coach and he offered me a spot on the team. I decided to play volleyball, as well.”

Buchanan was an All-Region 4-AAA performer for the Lady Bulldogs last fall. Additionally, she was a 2016 South Carolina High School League Scholar-Athlete Award winner (for student-athletes holding a Grade Point Average of 3.5 or better and who have lettered, at least, twice) and graduated in the top 10 of Camden High’s 2016 graduating class.

Camden High head volleyball coach Paige Wilson said she could not be happier for Buchanan who will now be able to continue with her academic and volleyball-playing pursuits.

“Emma is a great girl both on and off the court,” Wilson said. “She was a team player for us and she worked real hard for many years playing in the offseason. I’m real happy for her because she really loves the game and now, she will be able to continue playing volleyball in college.”

A three-year varsity performer and letterwinner, Buchanan was a players who filled more than one role for Wilson and the Lady Bulldogs. At 5-foot-10 and athletic, she would step out of the traditional hitter’s role to play where she was needed without Wilson having to make an in-game substitution.

“Emma was a versatile player. She played on the front row as a hitter but she could also set,” Wilson said. “She stepped in and set for us. She can play multiple roles which was very helpful for our team.”

Buchanan first started playing volleyball in the fifth grade. She played for the Camden Middle School Lady War Eagles and played club volleyball in the off-season which aided in her development. Through the years, Buchanan was willing to learn not only about the ins and outs about the game of volleyball but about the responsibilities which players in different positions must carry out.

 “Just being able to play multiple positions and not being stuck in just one place has given me a lot of insight on all the positions along with learning more about the game. That helps a lot,” she said.

When he offered Buchanan the chance to join the Saints’ volleyball program, Limestone head coach Brandon Skweres told his newest player that in college, her role will be more defined than it was in high school due to the program’s abundance of returning setters.

“I played setter and right side throughout high school and he talked to me and said that he will probably try me on the right side since he had three setters already,” she said of her anticipated position in college. “Obviously, when you go into practice, everybody works for their position and anything can happen.”

“It will be the same thing in college for her,” Wilson said of her former player. “The coaches at Limestone are going to see, real quick, that she is versatile. I think Emma will do very well in college.”

Buchanan said the practices at Camden High and in club volleyball have given her a base and a sampling as to how things operate at the collegiate level. The similarities between how the game is played in college, as opposed to high school, end there, she said.

“The girls in college hit a lot harder and it’s a faster game,” she said. “Everything else will be the same; I’m used to the practices and things like that.”

Wilson believes Buchanan has what it takes to be a success at the next level. “The game’s going to be faster and it’s a high level of play,” she said. “But I think Emma’s ready for the challenge.”

What will change from high school beginning with the fall semester for Emma Buchanan will be the academic workload. Majoring in biology will present her with a new set of academic challenges in her time away from the volleyball court.

“I’m going to have a tougher schedule in being a biology major,” she said of her first priority at Limestone. “I want to go into physical therapy so I’m definitely going to have to focus on school a lot and make sure that I have the grades to go into that.”

While knowing she was going to be able to attend college thanks to her performance in the classroom, Emma Buchanan is grateful that she will still be able to lace up her sneakers and hit the volleyball court when the Saints begin pre-season practice in August. That being said, she knows academics is what helped pave the way for her to continue playing a sport which she loves and one that she thought she would not play again at the competitive level after high school.

She is looking forward to this new opportunity and ready to take advantage of it at Limestone.

“I’ve been playing volleyball for so long that I thought that I could go on without it and still be OK. Then, when the opportunity came along, I decided to take it because I know that I’ll never get this opportunity again,” she said.

“I’m really excited about it. I didn’t expect the opportunity so, I’m very excited.”

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