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    November 12, 2021 Lynchburg, Va. RSS |

    Besides setting up teammates’ kills, Cropper has the vertical jump needed to spike herself.

    At 5 feet, 5 inches tall and just over 100 pounds, Allen, Texas, homeschooled student and defensive specialist Grace Cropper may not be a physically imposing figure on the beach volleyball court, but she is invaluable to her playing partner in digging up opponents’ spikes and setting her up for kills.

    An outside hitter and defensive specialist for her Lucas Christian Academy indoor volleyball team since sixth grade, Cropper adapted to the sand game as soon as she was introduced to it.

    “Once I first started playing beach in the summer after my seventh-grade year, I just fell in love with it,” Cropper said. “An aspect I love about beach is you get a ton more touches than you would in indoor because there’s only two players. I’m a full-time defender and primarily dig, but still get a chance to kill. I’m pretty quick so I am able to move fast to the ball even if I don’t get a good read.”

    She now competes for her MadSand and QuickSand club teams, traveling to USA Volleyball nationals in Gulf Shores, Ala., and Beach Volleyball Clubs of America (BVCA) nationals in California, where she and her playing partner defeated NCAA Division I recruits to the University of Hawaii’s and the University of South Carolina’s beach teams.

    The daughter of Sara and Brennan Cropper, Grace visited her brother, Noah, a freshman nursing student at Liberty, over College For A Weekend (CFAW) in late October and has since committed to join the Lady Flames beach volleyball team starting next fall.

    “I got to visit with the team and got to go watch them lift and practice with them,” Cropper said. “I liked the facilities they had to work out in and that they had their own trainer.”

    She enjoyed the culture that Head Coach Kaleb VanDePerre and Assistant Coach Jess Nelson have helped to foster within the beach program.

    “That is something I really look forward to being a part of,” she said. “I did really like the camaraderie of the team, and the team atmosphere, the coaching and how nice the girls were and how open they were to welcoming me. Campus is super pretty, and everyone I met was also super friendly and nice.”

    She plans to pursue a degree in either hospitality management through the School of Business or event planning through the department of Family & Consumer Sciences (FACS)

    “Ever since I was a little girl, I was interested in being a wedding planner,” Cropper said.

    She is also involved in a lead team for the middle school students at City Bridge Community Church, praying with them and helping to run youth activities.