To be a volleyball player, you have to have strength, muscular endurance and mental toughness. Middle hitter Emily Miller fits all these categories.

“I’m mentally tough, but people like to call me stubborn,” she said. “They say ‘do something this way’, and then they could change it I’m just like ‘No you said do it this way why would I change it I get set in my ways.”

Miller hails from Lake Placid, New York and has a competitive mind.  She weight trains specifically for volleyball and hopes to run a personal fitness center in the future.

Head coach Jake Bluhm said Miller is a key component to the Cardinals’ style of play. Miller, he said, is a physical player who the team can rely on in critical moments.

But sometimes Miller’s competitiveness can hurt her. While playing basketball in high school, Miller chipped a bone in her index finger, forcing her to miss the sectionals for volleyball.

“I’m not going to be like ‘OK, I’m not going to block you,’” Miller said. “I’m going to block you because I’m very competitive.”

Not only did Emily miss the sectionals, she missed the chance to play with her sister, Noelle Miller, after Noelle moved up for her freshman year.

Emily and Noelle now both play at Plattsburgh State and for the sisters, it’s a dream come true.

“She’s my best friend. She’s always there for me,” Noelle said. “She can be a pest sometimes, but what sister isn’t?”

Emily showed her persistence when she made Noelle get into weight training before preseason so they would be in shape going into the season.

Noelle enters PSUC playing the same position as Emily, but Emily feels more pressure to perform, pushing them to new heights.

“The fact that she is watching me out there on the court I’m like ‘Oh, I have to be better, I have to be better so she can be better,’” Emily said.

“We push each other and the fact that we play the same position makes it 20 times better.”

Emily is a role model to her sister. Noelle said she pushes her harder than anyone can push and tries to keep up with her. They give each other suggestion on what they need to work on or where they need to be on the court. Emily is also a vocal leader on the team.

“She is one of the biggest influences on the team,” defensive specialist Jack Mariotti said. “She’s a really big role model. As you can see from her, she’s a really strong player.”

Emily’s sister isn’t the only one in the family to play volleyball. Both her mother and father play, but it was her father who had the greatest impact on her volleyball career.

“I am the epitome of a daddy’s girl,” Emily said. “Always have been, always will be.”

Reed Miller, her father, is always there to support her, even on the toughest days. He records every game she plays in and they both go over what she did wrong and what she should be doing at certain times in games.
“The fact that he can watch what I’m doing is extremely important to me,” Emily said. “I have no clue what I would do without it.”

Even though she is a “daddy’s girl,” she went outside her father’s comfort zone when she cut her hair. She always saw girls with short hair and wondered if she could pull it off.

In April 2014, she visited a hair stylist, asked if short hair would fit her, he said yes and she got a haircut in the style of Jennifer Lawrence.

Emily was terrified at first and she thought it was going to look terrible, but it came out looking fine.

“Gradually over the summer, it just kept getting shorter, and shorter, and shorter, and finally I buzzed the sides off,” Emily said. “I had a Miley Cyrus look going on, and I always wore it in a fohawk, which I loved.”

Before her father found out about her new hairstyle, she went into her bathroom and used her dad’s beard trimmer to give herself a buzz cut.

She then walked into the living room and she said when her father saw it, he loved it.

“I feel more badass with it,” Emily said. “Sometimes I thought hair was like a blanket to hide behind. Now that I have no hair, I have nothing to hide behind.”

Email Alex Ayala at photo@cardinalpointsonline.com.

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