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Battlefield senior volleyball player Hanna Radhi officially signed a national letter of intent to receive a full-ride athletic scholarship to James Madison University beginning next fall.
Radhi inks deal with JMU
© Gainesville TimesThroughout her high school volleyball career, Hanna Radhi met countless challengers who tested her endurance.
Broad Run always played tough.
Loudoun Valley used to bring it too.
Then, there were perhaps the most fierce competitors of them all:
Black Friday shoppers at Tysons Corner Center.
Like thousands of deal seeker willing to test their collective sanity, the Battlefield senior trekked over to the massive retail outlet mall in McLean on Nov. 23 hoping to score a couple discounts.
Just five days earlier, surrounded by friends and family at home in Gainesville, she officially signed a national letter of intent to receive a full-ride athletic scholarship to James Madison University beginning next fall.
Yet, as this past weekend kicked off, scores of strangers lined up in front of and behind the 6-foot-tall outside hitter during an hour-long wait to check out at the clothing store Express.
Though she wavered at times, Radhi admitted her competitive side won her over.
"I have to get through it!" she recalled thinking during a phone interview that same afternoon.
All kidding aside, Radhi is one of the most relentless athletes to pass through the halls at the Haymarket high school.
An outside hitter, she collected 279 kills during her senior season: 4.5 times as many as her first full varsity year in 2010, according to statistics provided by Maxpreps.com.
Her numbers grew to 210 kills as a junior and her blocks went up per year too: 39, 83 and 108.
In the process, Radhi set four school records and tied BHS volleyball legend Sidney Harbold in career kills.
Meanwhile, her GPA is above a 3.6, right in that B-plus to A-minus range, well above what she needs to maintain her scholarship at JMU.
She verbally committed to the team in Nov. 2011 but put pen to paper just last week.
"The coaches, they're just so great. They're so friendly. It was like a giant family there," said Radhi, explaining why she went with her first-choice school. "They had the whole package for me."
Battlefield head coach Chris Lem routinely praised Radhi during this past season, bestowing three Player of the Match honors to her despite a season that put the Bobcats as a team at 9-15 overall (7-3 in the Cedar Run District).
"On senior night, Hanna Radhi had 3 aces, 24 kills, 7 blocks, and 1 dig. Get ready JMU to have one of our best players in school history, and our first (NCAA) D-I player ever," reported Lem after the Bobcats' 3-1 win over Patriot on Oct. 25.
Less than a month earlier, during a 3-2 loss against Freedom, Lem announced that Radhi "delivered a new school record 28 kills" in one match, breaking alumna Kelly Milione's team record of 23 kills.
Meanwhile, the power hitter also collected seven blocks, and four digs "in front of a crowd which included JMU's assistant coach."
That coach, Casey Steinbrecher, also witnessed Radhi at her best when the Bobcats battled back from an 0-2 deficit against Tuscarora to win 3-2.
"We just totally changed the atmosphere," she said. "We (were) doing it for each other."
According to Radhi, Lem and the JMU head coach Lauren Steinbrecher share a similar quality in that they're "very encouraging."
"The whole team is just so friendly," she said about her soon-to-be college squad.
What she noticed about the Dukes group is that the atmosphere they create on the court is an electric one built around team unity during intense, fast-paced matches.
"They use that and they take all the energy and excitement and they work it into how they play," said Radhi.
This season, the Dukes ended up 13-16, falling in the Colonial Athletic Association semi-finals to Delaware.
Radhi is due to enter the program with her experience as an outside hitter at a time when JMU is losing one of its most prolific players in the same position, senior Danielle Erb, who recorded 13 kills and 16 digs during the team's final game.
While she is planning to major in health sciences so she may perhaps pursue a career in physical therapy, Radhi mentioned that while it would be nice to play in the Olympics, her focus is strictly on the upcoming task at hand.
"My goal," said Radhi, "is just to go to JMU and be the best player I can be and give them my all and see where it takes me."