Despite competing in a sport where being tall is the norm, Brittany Yaxley does not let her petite stature keep her from becoming a force to be reckoned with on the court.
“I think her small stature had people deceived for a long time about how good she truly was at volleyball,” head coach Jenna Panatier said. “What has changed with Brittany over the past two years is that her confidence is well beyond her physical statute now and being more comfortable with the role of being the go to person on our team.”
Yaxley is a junior liberal studies major, born on June 29, 1994, and attended Glendora High School.
She was a three sport athlete in high school with volleyball, soccer and track.
After making varsity volleyball her sophomore year and fully committing to the sport, she stopped playing soccer and track.
“I had originally tried out for volleyball my freshman year of high school and didn’t want to play because I never played before but my mom forced me into trying out for all sports,” Yaxley said. “At the end of my freshman year, I really didn’t want to play because I wasn’t getting the playing time so I thought I wasn’t very good. Sophomore year I randomly made varsity so my mom made me stick with it and I really enjoyed it,” she said.
Yaxley was not looking to play volleyball at the collegiate level and wanted to go out of state for school, but high school teammate Randi Tomey-Peterson recommended her to play volleyball at La Verne.
Yaxley’s decision was finalized when she realized she would play for her club volleyball coach, Panatier, who was the new incoming coach for the Leopards at the time.
Playing in a regional tournament as a freshman displayed her future ability, fighting through a tough sophomore year as a team, only winning eight games, showed her ability to deal with adversity.
She was named second team all-conference player in her sophomore year.
Leading her team to a 20-7 record and 12-4 in the Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference this year, has brought light to her hard work paying off with the team reaching the regional tournament again.
“We definitely have developed that team chemistry that was missing last year,” Yaxley said. “The past year it’s been figuring out each other’s tendencies, strengths and weaknesses, and knowing how to compensate for each other out on the court to make us better and it certainly showed this year.”
This year she was named as a third team All-American, first team All-Conference player and all regional team.
Yaxley leads the SCIAC conference this season with .66 service aces per set, which ranked 34th nationally.
She ranked second in SCIAC with 4.22 kills per set, which ranked 18th nationally.
“She is so vital to the team with her consistency,” junior middle blocker Destinee Sales said. “For instance, not just anybody gets 13 aces in one match like she did against Caltech.”
Yaxley also reached two huge milestones this year, reaching over 1,000 kills and 100 service aces.
“At first reaching those milestones didn’t even seem real but it was such a great feeling,” Yaxley said.
“I had no idea I was even close to 100 aces and after they announced it, I was shocked but honored to have reached that accolade in a Leopard uniform. I know these wouldn’t have been reached without my team and they deserve all the credit. It’s not about just me, but about what the team has helped me do to set me up for success and reach goals like these. I wish I could share this with everybody and that we could all have the plaque that I received because it’s truly a team effort,” she said.
Yaxley’s modesty helps her maintain a level head, where she uses her outgoing personality to help others through knowledge that she has gained.
“I hope that Brittany next year takes on the role of the leader and continues on with the hard work ethic that we both have grown into working together the past three years,” senior libero Anna Suarez said.
Sales says the common joke around the team is about how much Yaxley and Suarez can eat and all they talk about is food.
If her spunk and sarcasm do not draw you in to her playful personality, then her work ethic will make you want to be around her to rub off on you.
“Watching her set goals for herself is really incredible,” Sales said. “She always sets the bar little bit higher every time and because she is so consistent, she is able to set what would be deemed as unrealistic goals to anybody else and attain them.”
When Yaxley is not dominating on the court, she likes to relax and have time to herself.
“I go home and watch Netflix and I coach volleyball on the side on the weekends at Pacific Juniors,” Yaxley said. “I’m a Harry Potter nerd and currently reading the series again for like the 17th time. I love Harry Potter. I like reading it and watching old movies and memorizing all the lines.”
She continues to help others by encouraging them to work on their craft and be better by shadowing her work ethic.
“Brittany to other people may come off intense and one that lacks emotion but she is one of the ones that is the most emotional and passionate of all,” Suarez said.
Yaxley loves to sing her heart out to Blake Shelton and country music.
“I was thinking the other day about if there was a talent show what would I do,” Yaxley said. “I really don’t have an answer for that but I am trying to figure out what my secret talent is. I don’t have a secret talent but I enjoy a lot of things.”
So whether or not Yaxley has realized that extraordinary talent yet, she has found her secret talent as a standout, leader and entertainer on the court.
Hal Hargrave can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.