Van Buren earns all-American honors

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By: 
Rob Reischel
Former Middleton High School volleyball standout Parker Van Buren (14) was recently named a first-team all-American by the American Volleyball Coaches Association./Photo courtesy of Loyola University

Three years ago, as Parker Van Buren was beginning his volleyball career at Loyola University, he wrote down a list of goals.

Near the top of the list were the words: ‘First team all-American.’

“It seemed like an unrealistic goal when I wrote it down,” Van Buren said.

Hardly. Anyone that watched the 6-foot-9 Van Buren dominate during his days at Middleton High School understood what a rare talent he was.

And Van Buren has proved that to the country during his time at Loyola, where he was recently named a first-team all-American by the American Volleyball Coaches Association. Van Buren, a 2020 Middleton graduate, is also the first MHS alum to receive Division 1 first-team All-American honors.

In addition, Van Buren was named the Player of the Year in the Midwestern Intercollegiate Volleyball Association.

“Receiving the recognition after chasing it for three years meant the world to me,” said Van Buren, who will be a redshirt senior this fall. “I’m extremely grateful and honored. That being said, once one goal is achieved, another needs to be chosen. I’m really looking forward to next year and hope to accomplish even more.”

Van Buren was second in the MIVA with 4.11 kills per set. His hitting efficiency was also a stellar .352, which was good for third in the MIVA.

Van Buren led the Ramblers to a second-place finish in the regular season. He is the first Rambler to be the MIVA Player of the Year since 2015.

Van Buren was also a second-team All-American and the MIVA's Newcomer of the Year in 2022.

Those that know Van Buren best certainly aren't surprised by his accomplishments at the next level.

“I was fortunate enough to play with Parker in high school,” current Middleton High School coach Dylan Griffith said. “He to this day is one of the best teammates I've had in my playing career. He's humble, kind, and has an amazing work ethic. I am not at all surprised at the level he has worked to get to.

“He's playing at the highest Division 1 level and has had numerous opportunities with Team USA. It has been so fun to see his growth, but most importantly his humility through the process. He was even able to come in and help at a few practices last year. He is a great role model for our program's athletes.”

During his stellar MHS career, Van Buren earned first-team all-state honors as a senior in 2019 and was a second-team all-state selection as a junior in 2018. He was also the Big Eight Conference’s Player of the Year in 2019 and a first-team all-conference selection in both 2018 and 2019.

Van Buren broke Middleton’s ] single season kills record and led the state in kills with 503 as a senior. He also finished second in school history in career kills (906).

Van Buren’s 52 aces in 2019 were the second-most for a single season in Middleton history and his 79 career aces ranks ninth all-time. Van Buren had a remarkable .467 kill percentage (kills — errors/attempts) and he was also named Middleton’s MVP as a senior.

As a junior, Van Buren was named Middleton’s MVP after finishing the year with 359 kills and a stellar .382 kill percentage.

“The day that always stands out to me is Parker's junior year of volleyball at the Whitefish Bay invite,” said former Middleton boys coach Ben White, who now coaches MHS’ girls team. “It was the day I say as a coach everything clicked for Parker.

“He started to understand his swing, his all-around skill set and completely took over. I remember we beat Marquette that day and Parker had 17 kills in the match and also received his first yellow card for taunting. As a coach I was actually a little proud because we were watching Parker grow and understand that he was a pretty darn good volleyball player.”

 

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