Western Albemarle’s Caitlyn Driver (center) celebrates a point with teammates last season. Driver has committed to play volleyball at Christopher Newport.

Caitlyn Driver has been a two-sport standout her entire career at Western Albemarle High School.

Driver will narrow her athletic focus at the next level. The rising senior middle blocker recently when she verbally committed to play volleyball at Christopher Newport University.

“CNU volleyball is a very strong program and I wanted to be a part of it,” Driver said. “I wanted to go somewhere that was a mid-size school. I like CNU because, with about 5,000 students, it is not small, but also not too big. The coaching staff and team were all very welcoming and there is a major since of community, both on the team and on campus.”

Athletics have always been a large part of Driver’s life. She started playing soccer at the age of 4 and continued to play through middle school before finding her calling in volleyball and basketball.

She was introduced to volleyball as a freshman in high school and immediately developed a love for the sport. Driver garnered all-Jefferson District honors the past two seasons for Western Albemarle and received the prestigious Warrior award for the sport in 2017.

“To be able to play for only a few years [in high school] and get to play in college feels like a dream,” Driver said. “I have had really great coaches that have helped me to learn a lot really quickly. It’s an honor to play at this level, especially when I have just begun the sport. I am excited to learn much more over the next four years.”

In addition, she received all-district and all-regional honors last winter for basketball. Driver also received the Sportsmanship Award for the past three years as a member of the basketball team.

The versatility and commitment garnered her attention by coaches at the next level. She received interest from a number of programs, including Dickinson College and Seton Hill, but no place compared to CNU.

“I fell in love with CNU when I stepped on to campus,” she said. “CNU was different because of the strength of their program and I really liked the coaching staff and the team.”

The Captains have been one of the top Division III volleyball programs in the country over the past decade. Coach Lindsay Birch’s team has won five NCAA regional championships and made two Final Four appearances in the past nine years.

“CNU is a very strong program, so my goal is to have a consistent role in their lineup,” Driver said. “CNU is frequently in the top of the national rankings, so in my four years, I hope to help the team achieve a national championship.”

Driver formed a strong bond with Birch and her coaching staff and felt like she fit in nicely with what they were trying to do as a middle hitter.

“The coaches were looking for someone who ran a lot of slides, which is one of my favorite hits to run,” Driver said. “The approach is the same footwork as a layup, so playing basketball for Western has really helped me develop my slides. I am projected to play middle hitter, which is what I play in both club and high school.”

For Driver, CNU’s excellence doesn’t stop on the volleyball court. Driver was impressed with the school’s environmental science department, particularly their labs and believed it was a great fit for her to continue her growth in the field.

“Academics were a major factor in my college decision,” Driver said. “I plan on majoring in environmental studies. I have been in the environmental studies academy at Western since I was a freshman. I hope to pursue something in this field after college because I love to be outside and do things to help the earth.”

Driver finalized her decision last week and couldn’t be happier.

“It was important to make this decision before senior year so I can focus on being a leader on my high school team and on my academics,” Driver said. “It is nice that I know where I will be attending college and I know that I am going to a place with good academics and athletics.”

With her college decision finalized, Driver can focus her attention on the upcoming volleyball season and checking off some boxes left on her to-do list.

“I want to keep working on my hitting and blocking and I hope for our team to make it to the state tournament this year,” Driver said. “This is something that I have not yet gotten to do in volleyball and I think we will be entering this season as an experienced and older team. I think that this is helpful because when I began varsity as a sophomore, my team was very young. I am excited for this to be a successful year.”

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