AKRON -- After overcoming a height disadvantage and two injuries to achieve much success with the University of Akron volleyball team, Ashlie Case of Austintown has decided to bypass her senior year of volleyball next season to attend law school.
"Being in pain every day is pretty taxing mentally," said the 5-foot-6 Case, who despite shoulder and back injuries managed to amass some 1,005 kills and 978 digs in her three-year career at Akron.
"I want to move on with my education."
So Case, who has a 3.9 grade-point average as a philosophy major, and recently was named to the Verizon Academic All-District Volleyball second team, is looking for more academic worlds to conquer. Only an A-minus has deprived her of a perfect 4.0 so far.
Law school: "I'm graduating in May and will start law school in the fall. I have always wanted to go to law school. I'm really interested in the whole justice system. It's a challenge," said Case, who holds the school record for most kills in one game with 33 against Clemson last season.
"I expect that as I learn more in law school, I'll find out what interests me the most. Tentatively down the road, I'd like to be a judge."
This season, Case led Akron in kills (281) and ranked second in digs (260), to help the Zips to a 17-9 record, including 11-7 in the Mid-American Conference. She ranked among the top five in digs per game in the MAC.
A Fitch High graduate, Case got off to a great start in her first year at Akron in 1998 by being named MAC Freshman of the Year, with identical averages of 3.3 kills and digs per game.
Shoulder surgery: But she took a medical red-shirt in 1999 after suffering a shoulder injury early in the season, and undergoing surgery in October.
However, Case bounced back in 2000 to rank No. 5 in the MAC with 3.28 digs per game, and No. 10 in kills with a 3.52 average.
Then she suffered her back injury in January of 2001, which continued to bother her this year.
And recently, she experienced shoulder pain after Akron's regular season finale against Kent State, which kept her out of the MAC tournament opener against Miami which the Zips lost.
"It [my shoulder] bothered me off and on since the surgery. I also had a back injury in January 2001.
And, "Injuries have hampered me this season," said Case, who believes her best volleyball achievement was "being able to compete as an offensive player [while being] only 5-6."
Jumps high: "I don't think I looked across the net and saw anyone smaller than me. It's always been a challenge knowing I had to play against taller players," said Case, who credited her ability to overcome taller players to her high vertical jump.
"I have a little over a 30-inch vertical jump, and jumping has helped me," said Case. "It was only 18 inches as a sophomore in high school. It continued to get higher. It has been a major reason I was able to play."
She noted that, "Dick Hartzell's jump stretch program really helped me to get started increasing my height."
Valedictorian: The daughter of Georgia and Tom Case, Ashlie was valedictorian of her Fitch High graduating class. She scored in the 99.7 percentile of the LSAT.
Case also was an All-Ohio first-team selection in volleyball, and in track a two-time state qualifier in the high jump.
XJohn Kovach covers college athletics for The Vindicator. Write him at email@example.com.