There was a time, not that long ago, when the idea of starting for the Andover High volleyball team terrified Alec Dean.
“I was so scared as a freshman,” he remembered with a laugh. “Before my first game, I went out and started warming up about two hours too early. I was very nervous, but after a while I began to settle in.”
Three years later, Dean is bursting with the well-deserved confidence of a senior captain with a pair of All-Conference seasons to his name.
The outside hitter — who earned early admission to Cornell University in New York — now hopes to turn that experience into a deep tournament run this season, which the Golden Warriors kick off tomorrow by hosting Milford.
“Alec brings tremendous skills to the court,” Warriors coach E.J. Perry said. “He has great skill and lots of experience as a three-year starter and two-year captain. He is a well-respected leader and a great player.”
Dean credits those skills — which allowed him to average 15 kills a night last season — to a unique start in the sport.
Growing up, he learned volleyball playing almost exclusively with girls.
“My dad got me into playing volleyball in elementary school,” he said. “At both High Plain Elementary School and Wood Hill Middle School, there was an after-school volleyball program. No guys played, so I was always playing with and against girls.
“That is how I learned the game, and it really helped a lot. The girls game is a totally different game. It is very focused on passing, not hitting like the guys. So playing with the girls helped make me a strong passer. Once I moved to the guys game, hitting came pretty easy to me.”
Dean had no trouble fitting into the men’s game when he arrived at Andover High, earning a starting job as libero as a freshman. But gaining the poise to star against much older players did not immediately come.