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Sydney Reed hates losing, so her Flint Hill volleyball career has gone quite all right

Flint Hill's Sydney Reed has led the Huskies to another dominant season and will try to push them to another triple crown this postseason. (Doug Kapustin/For The Washington Post)

It’s 4 o’clock in the morning, so Sydney Reed and her father wake up and head down to their family room. All the furniture is cleared out of the two-story room, allowing Reed to pass the volleyball with her father 100 times. Reed does this routine twice a week before preparing for a 90-minute commute from Howard County, where she resides, to her school, Flint Hill, located in Oakton.

The routine was inspired by Reed watching interviews of former NBA star Kobe Bryant, known for his single-minded competitiveness. This is what it takes to be the best, so Reed, the top outside hitter and libero in the area, doesn’t mind the early hours or long commute. Reed wants to win, and Flint Hill, a program with a long tradition of volleyball success, is the ideal setting for that.

“I just love playing and competing. I watch film all the time and watch other people play,” Reed said. “[My] whole family is pretty competitive. I hate losing, and I’ve had it in me since I was young.”

Reed hasn’t experienced much losing since she joined the team as a freshman. The Huskies have gone 113-6 in the past four seasons, and Reed has been a big reason, recording more than 1,000 digs, nearly 1,000 kills and 250 aces. She led Flint Hill to a 30-1 record and the program’s second consecutive triple crown last season.

The Huskies (24-1) are eyeing a third triple crown, which means winning the Independent School League, D.C. Metro City Championship and Virginia Independent School Athletic Association Division I title. They begin the ISL tournament Thursday at home against Maret.

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“I get chills thinking about her because she is a special player,” Flint Hill Coach Carrol DeNure said. “She’s been at [Flint Hill] since the eighth grade and on varsity for four years. She’s an aggressive competitor that works really hard. She eats, drinks and sleeps volleyball.”

Reed’s competitive nature started when she was 4 years old. Whether it was racing family members to see who buckles their seat belt the fastest or watching her older sister, Jordan, who played volleyball for St. John’s University, Reed wanted to be great.

“She has always been a competitor,” said her father, Jay. “She gets more joy out of not losing than winning.”

During the 2012 Olympics, an 11-year-old Reed had her eyes fixed on the television as she watched the U.S. volleyball team and her idol at the time, Destinee Hooker, who played at the University of Texas. From that moment, Reed wanted to play Division I volleyball. Her father, who played football for the University of Wisconsin, showed her what it would take to get there.

“Since I was a college athlete, I was letting her know that if she wanted to go to a school like that, you are going to have to do a lot more work than just going to volleyball practice,” Jay Reed said.

“She had her own kind of fire, wanting to be a Division I athlete and getting a scholarship. Her and I would work in the basement and in our backyard all the time.”

As a sophomore, Reed earned a scholarship offer to play libero at the University of North Carolina, and despite later getting offers from several other big-name programs, she committed to becoming a Tar Heel.

Though Reed is as dominant as they come in this area, it isn’t as if she was built in a volleyball lab. At 5-foot-6, she is a bit undersized for the outside hitter position. She has worked on becoming an all-around player who excels at the mental and physical aspects of the sport.

Reed keeps opponents on their toes with her ability to instantly find open spots on the court and hit the ball into them with range and power. As often as she leaps in the air for high-power kills, she also will dive for digs when the Huskies need a spark.

“She’s impacted the team a lot,” senior outside hitter Denver Pugh said. “She’s the senior that’s been here the longest. She comes in with energy and makes sure we don’t play around.”

Reed has aspirations to play in the Olympics, but for now, she wants to end her senior season as a champion and cement her legacy as one of the best players in Flint Hill history. Whenever Reed glances up at the banners that grace the walls of the school’s gymnasium, she is reminded of the goal she is trying to achieve.

“I’m playing for my school,” Reed said. “I’m trying to put another banner up there.”

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