Ashburn, Va. — When she first stepped foot on campus, Chandler Manusky knew she’d be moving to South Carolina. From the coaches to the team to the campus and the academics, Manusky fell in love with the College of Charleston and feels it is the perfect fit for her to continue her volleyball career starting in the 2021-2022 academic year.
“The College of Charleston has an atmosphere that I could not resist and I could not wait to be a part of,” the 5-foot-7 Manusky said. “I knew committing there wouldn’t be anything less than amazing.”
When the rising Briar Woods High School senior makes the nearly 600-mile trip south to Charleston two falls from now, Manusky will be suiting up for the Division I Cougars on the hardwood and on the beach. Led by head coach Jason Kepner, the Cougars finished their 2019 indoor season 7-21, a down year for Charleston which had posted 18 consecutive winning seasons and hadn’t finished below .500 in the conference since 2000.
“The coaches at Charleston are exactly what I look for. Their feedback each camp helps me grow as a player so much within the span of a week; I can’t even begin to imagine four years of that same coaching and the progress I will make as a player,” said Manusky, who will play libero or defensive specialist for the Cougars. “The coaching staff made me feel so wanted and so special as a player and, once again, I knew I wouldn’t feel that way anywhere else.”
The same coaching staff leads the beach volleyball program which was sitting at 3-6 before its 2020 season came to an abrupt halt due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Cougars had won 3 of their last 5 matches, including sweeping Mercer on March 8 before the season ended. Five of their six losses came against nationally ranked opponents.
“When I go in as a freshman, I’m hoping that I can just bring more energy, more love for the game, and a presence on the court that makes everyone around me better,” Manusky said. “All the players who are currently on the team or who are entering within the next two years are all skilled players who have excellent court presence and that’s all I would hope to add to.”
Despite seeing its season end prematurely, Charleston will return a majority of its young team in 2020-2021 then a majority of those girls yet again in 2021-2022 when Manusky joins the program.
“The girls on the team are so welcoming and such a good group of players and people,” Manusky said. “I knew there wasn’t another school where I would find a dynamic like that.”
Before heading to Charleston, Manusky has one more season ahead of her at Briar Woods as long as the VHSL and Loudoun County Public Schools approve competition for the fall.
Led by first-year head coach Joe Riggio, Briar Woods finished its 2019 season 22-6 overall, falling to North Stafford, 3-2, in a VHSL 5A State semifinal.
“I cannot be more excited to have another season with Coach Riggio as I can already tell how excited he is to get back into the gym and start working hard,” said Manusky, who earned second team all-state and first team All-LoCo honors in 2019. “His belief in our team is utterly amazing and is something that I know all of the girls are wildly appreciative of.”
After playing for head coach Mike Byers her freshman and sophomore years, Manusky played under Riggio her junior season and credits both for developing her as a player.
“Coach Byers and Coach Riggio have vastly different ways of teaching which both helped me grow so much as a player,” said Manusky, who also plays for Metro Volleyball Club. “I can credit so much to them both. Both coaches were excellent people who truly believed in my skill, even when I might have not felt the same.”
Before their season came to a close in that state semifinal, the Falcons were on a roll, sweeping rival Stone Bridge, 3-0, in the VHSL Region 5C championship match, extending their winning streak at the time to 12 straight games, a run Manusky will certainly remember for a long time.
“Even though there had been some hardships and losses during all three of my seasons so far, I can say that my experience has still been spectacular,” Manusky said. “Playing for Briar Woods is something I’m proud of and am so glad that I was able to be a part of and still have another year to be a part of it. I hope to leave a lasting impact so the future players get the same amazing experience that I did.”