Board Leading the Warriors on the Court
Audrey Board is an intimidating force at the net for the Valley Regional girls’ volleyball team, leading the squad in both kills and blocks this season. Off the court, Audrey is a teammate who is deeply invested in her fellow Warriors and a proud member of her community.
Audrey is in her senior season as a captain for the Valley volleyball team. Audrey began immersing herself in the sport after participating in middle school intramurals, where she immediately stood out as a talented player and solid leader. Audrey quickly realized that she belonged on the volleyball court and knew that it would be much more than a casual sport for her.
“On the court, I really found my place, because I am a 6-foot-tall girl, and trying to do other sports, like soccer and gymnastics, I never really fit in with my height as much as I wanted to,” says Audrey. “In volleyball, I could really use my height as an advantage on the court, and that was something that I really enjoyed. I just felt this passion for the sport, and I wanted to learn more things and try harder and practice all the time and get better.”
Audrey’s hard work is paying off as she leads a Warriors’ team that’s in the midst of a solid stretch with 5 wins in its last 7 matches. Audrey tallied 11 kills in a recent contest against defending Shoreline Conference champion Haddam-Killingworth. Thus far this season, Audrey had accounted for 61 percent of the team’s kills as Valley entered its match with Coginchaug on Sept. 30.
While offense has always been her strength, Audrey worked hard during the offseason to round out her game on the defensive side of the court, drastically improving her blocking abilities. Audrey had recorded 19 blocks for the Warriors through their first 8 matches of the year. Head Coach Sofia Cullina says that Audrey’s improvements on defense have been a vital part of her team’s progression this season.
“She’s always been a strong hitter, but I think the biggest thing this season is her blocking,” Cullina says of Audrey. “Her defense at the net has been key for us this year. She gets 2 to 3 blocks per game. She is a force on the net, and it’s intimidating to the others team’s hitters. That’s something that she has been working on, and it’s been paying off.”
While wins on the court are important, Audrey is also focusing on developing positive team spirit and solidifying the bonds among her teammates. Over the past few seasons, the Valley Regional volleyball program has built a culture of camaraderie within its JV and varsity teams. Audrey considers herself a product of this system and feels proud to be a part of it.
“I’ve really looked up to a lot of the past seniors and captains,” says Audrey. “I remember idolizing them when they would go on the court, and I would really pay attention to a lot of them. They were my idols.”
Now a senior captain herself, Audrey says that the transition to the role has been “extremely smooth.” The fact that Audrey gets to lead the Warriors alongside a pair of good friends makes the experience that much better.
“I am captain along with two of my best friends, Sophie Scrivo and Kaia Karcich,” Audrey says. “It’s been very easy with the two of them, because we are very supportive of each other.”
Outside of the Valley Regional gym, Audrey also competes for the CT Juniors regional volleyball team that travels to play matches in cities like Boston and Providence. The experience of playing on the travel circuit has helped Audrey hone her skills, while also giving her exposure to college coaching and top-tier competition. Audrey says that this experience has helped her improve her hitting skills with each passing season.
Along with being a volleyball standout, Audrey has been a competitive dancer for more than a decade. Audrey is also a member of the Old Lyme Town Band with her family, as well as an avid community volunteer.
“I volunteer a couple days after school a week. I assist an elderly woman twice a week who lives in Essex,” says Audrey. “I love to go over to her house, and I just get to talk with her, go on walks with her. I get to read with her, and that’s actually a highlight of my week.”
While Audrey’s future plans extend far beyond volleyball, Coach Cullina has confidence that the senior captain would excel at the next level if she decided to take that route.
“There’s no doubt in my mind that she could go on to play in college. I think the growth that she would have from freshman year of college to senior year of college would be unreal. She’s just an amazing player, an amazing athlete already, and working with college coaches, that would only take her a step up, and I think she absolutely could do it.” Cullina says. “The girls really do look up to her and strive to be like her. We’re super lucky to have Audrey as a part of our program. We’re going to miss her when she graduates.”
Although Audrey is graduating next year, the Board family is going to continue being represented on the Valley Regional volleyball court. Audrey’s sister, sophomore Holly Board, is currently the setter for the Warriors’ JV team. Audrey calls Holly her biggest supporter and is excited to follow her high school career through the next few years.
“She has probably been my No. 1 fan. I know she is going to go far,” says Audrey of her sister. “She’s really my inspiration. She practices all the time. She’s very dedicated to the sport, and I can’t wait to see what she’s going to do.”