EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

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April 11, 2014

Cornell-bound Dean front and center for Andover volleyball

ANDOVER — Tell Alec Dean he plays volleyball like the girls.

Go ahead, feel free. Dean takes it as a compliment.

“Growing up I learned to play volleyball while playing with and against girls,” said Dean proudly. “The girls’ game is totally different and it taught me so much about the game. Once I started playing against the guys it clicked right away.”

Whatever the route, the reigning Eagle-Tribune All-Star and two-time All-Merrimack Valley Conference pick Dean certainly learned how to star on the volleyball court.

The senior outside hitter — who earned early admission to Cornell — is the captain and top player for the Andover High volleyball team, which stands at 2-2 so far this season.

“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 match last season — to his unique start in the sport.

“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 earned a starting job as libero as a freshman. But gaining the poise to star against much older players did not come immediately.

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