By GREG KEIM
THE GOSHEN NEWS
A family connection was instrumental in helping Fairfield High School volleyball standout Raina Troyer when it came time to make her decision on where she was going to continue playing the sport at the collegiate level.
The four-year letterwinner and three-time All-NECC honoree is headed to Indiana Wesleyan, an NAIA school located in Marion.
“I went to a summer camp at Wesleyan and was really welcomed by the team,” she said.
The final choice came down to the IW Wildcats and another member of the Crossroads League, the Taylor Trojans.
“Her cousin Derrick Troyer played basketball at Indiana Wesleyan,” Raina’s mom Karmen Troyer added. “The coaches at Wesleyan were impressed with Derrick’s athletic ability.”
Derrick Troyer played four years of basketball at Northridge High School, two for Steve Austin and two for Jason Ridge, before playing for the Wildcats.
Raina and her twin sister Riley were key ingredients during their volleyball careers for the Fairfield Falcons. In four varsity seasons, Fairfield had a noteworthy 130-17 record that included four sectionals titles. As freshmen, the Falcons finished 31-5 with the season ending in a loss to Southwood in the Class 2A semistate championship, followed by 34-4 as sophomores with a 2A runner-up finish after a loss to Muncie Burris in the state championship, a 30-6 mark as juniors in a season that ended with a 3A regional loss to Fort Wayne Concordia and a senior campaign of 35-2 when the season ended with a loss to Yorktown in a 3A semistate championship match.
“I have a lot of respect for Raina,” Fairfield coach Carla Herschberger said. “Her sister Riley was our starting setter as a freshman while Raina was on the JV. Raina took it upon herself to work hard enough to make varsity as a sophomore, taking the libero position away from a senior.”
Troyer shared how playing volleyball at Fairfield has gotten her ready to compete at the collegiate level.
“The coaches at Fairfield do a great job of blending a group of girls together. We never really had one standout player,” she said. “It was a lot of fun. Some people make think it was really intense, but coach always treated me like one of her daughters.
“The success we had at Fairfield gives me the knowledge of what it takes to get to that level and how great it feels once you get there.”
Indiana Wesleyan posted a 36-4 record last season (17-1 in the Crossroads League) for coach Candace Moats.
“I first watched Raina in action at our summer camp,” Moats said on the school Web site. “What stood out most to my assistant and me was that she was very quick, athletic, and competitive. Raina has a high ceiling as a defender and as good as she is right now, we believe she has much more potential to grow.”
At Wesleyan, Troyer will be playing against a former teammate when the Wildcats face Goshen College in Jaime Stack who will be a senior for the Maple Leafs this fall.
Troyer was named to the 3A-4A North All-State team in 2011 and earned the Fairfield defensive award in 2012.
She expects to be a defensive specialist (libero) for the Wildcats.
“Wesleyan has a lot of good back row players, including a senior libero, so I’m not sure how much playing time there will be for me the first year,” Troyer said. “One thing I need to work on is being more of a vocal leader on the court. That is more a matter of getting to know the other girls. It’s going to be weird going into a program again and being one of the youngest ones.”
Herschberger said, “Raina knows all three back row positions. She is a versatile enough player I think she can help out right away.”
Raina was also a four-year letterwinner at Fairfield in softball and a four-year scholar athlete. The Troyer sisters helped the Falcons win the program’s first-ever sectional and regional championships this spring as the team advanced to the semistate championship before the season ended with a loss to Yorktown.
She graduated from Fairfield with a 3.89 grade point average.
“Both my volleyball coach (Herschberger) and softball coach (John Skibbe) knew the importance of academics,” Troyer said. “They made sure we got home earlier enough to have time for homework.”
She plans to study graphic design and to take as many photography classes as possible.
Raina is the daughter of Lydell and Karmen Troyer.