Freshman volleyball player stands out above the net

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Media: Kate Foultz

Parker Gray totaled 83 kills through 11 games this season.

By Alberto Gilman

Going into high school, freshman middle blocker Parker Gray had several options on the table to play baseball in college.

Four years later, he’s starting on the Emerson men’s volleyball team, putting up 10 kills in four of his last six matches, including a career-high 13 in the team’s most recent match against St. Josephs College on Feb. 21.

“When I got to high school, I was in my 10th year of playing baseball, and at that time I was being recruited for pitching from two or three colleges in the local area,” Gray said in an interview. “It was kind of like a lot on me.”

Gray, a Los Angeles, California, native, is a starter in his first season with the Lions. Through the first 11 matches, Gray’s statistics include 83 kills, 51 digs, 12 total blocks, 202 total attacks, seven service aces and seven assists.

After deciding to not pursue baseball, which he described as more of a family interest rather than a personal one, a teacher offered Gray the opportunity to play on his high school’s volleyball team. Gray told his father he would quit baseball and join the volleyball team, and he has been playing ever since.

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“Baseball, in general, has always just been something that my dad has been pushing,” Gray said. “When I got to high school, I just kind of saw it as something I didn’t have a true interest in.”

Gray said he is thankful for the opportunity to play at Emerson.

“It was kind of just the fact that someone showed interest in me at all, and it was at a school that I kind of knew somewhat about,” Gray said. “After I started doing research on it, I found out that it’d actually be like a really good fit for me and like what I want to do in my career.”

Before Gray stepped on the court, Gray knew the college would be a good fit.

“After I like came on my visit and met everybody on the team, I could just feel like these were people I could truly see myself spending like my time with and not feel like I was an outsider,” Gray said. “I honestly have felt like that on teams where I just didn’t really fit in with any of the players, but when I met like all these guys, I could really feel like these could be my friends for the next four years or going past that.”

Head coach Ben Read, in his fourth season with the Lions, said he already sees Gray’s potential.

“He’s a great player,” Read said in an interview. “He’s stepped up and done a great job in multiple roles on our team. The fact that he’s been able to kind of mold his game into what we’re looking for in him will help us down the road.”

Sophomore defensive specialist Leon Chen said he and Gray share a bond on and off the court, and he sees the impact Gray has on the team.

“It’s great to like actually see someone that I can see being friends with actually come to join our team,” Chen said in an interview. “It’s also great that Parker, as a freshmen player, is able to lead in terms of our offense, defense. He’s always there to support the team, especially in performance on the court. He’s a very passionate player.”

As the season progresses, Gray said playing under Coach Read will continue to develop his game and build a solid career.

“His vision is that he wants me to develop into a lot smarter of a player to the point where he doesn’t have to like worry about me doing the right thing,” Gray said. “Our relationship is still growing.”

Gray returns to the court as the Lions take on Lasell College at home on Friday, Feb. 28, at 7 p.m.