The comparisons were inevitable. Ashley Grubler knew that when she went to the same high school as her older sister, Mallory, and joined the girls’ volleyball team where she excelled.
Mallory led the Judges to the PSAL Class A title match as a senior in 2007 and was one of the best players in the city. She now plays at Hunter College, where she was one of the CUNYAC’s best freshmen last fall.
“She’s amazing, but I’m not her,” Ashley said. “I’m Ashley, not Mallory. We’re totally different people — and players, too.”
Ashley, a sophomore, is on her way to forging a path out of her sister’s shadow. She is already six feet tall, compared to Mallory’s 5-foot-10, and most — even her sister — agree she is further along in her development. Ashley has 25 kills in three league matches for Cardozo, ranked No. 9 in the PSAL by the New York Post.
“I think at this point, as a sophomore, her potential is limitless,” Judges Coach Danny Scarola said.
Mentally, though, the constant comparisons have worn on Ashley. She almost didn’t play volleyball at all for that reason. And when she attended Cardozo and joined the team, there was some wariness.
“It’s good to be compared to her,” Ashley said. “But you have to live up to Mallory, too.”
The two have very different personalities. Cardozo senior Susan Kang, the lone remaining member of the team to have played with Mallory, said Ashley is more intense. Mallory is shy and soft spoken. She thinks Ashley’s attitude has only helped her work toward overcoming the comparisons.
“She’s way more outgoing,” Mallory said. “She’s a lot stronger [emotionally] than I am. She doesn’t put up with anyone’s crap.”
And physically, Mallory admits, Ashley has always been ahead of her development curve. The younger Grubler dominated in basketball against older players prior to high school, Mallory said. Volleyball was similar.
“When she was in middle school, she was already spiking the ball,” said Mallory, whose younger brother, Jeremy, will join her at Hunter as a volleyball player this year. “When I was in middle school, I didn’t even know what that was. I was afraid to do it.”
Scarola said Ashley is faster and more athletically mature than Mallory was at the same age. Taller, too, of course. Her intensity also breeds competition. She loves her sister and the two are close, but she wants to be better.
“I want to live up to her and even move past her,” Ashley said.
She has time to do that. Ashley has just one high-school season and one club season, with Creole Big Apple, under her belt.
“If she keeps it up, she’ll be really good,” Mallory said. “I’m assuming if she wants to, she can go to a Division I school.”
That accomplishment would certainly separate Ashley from her older sister. It’s certainly a nice goal for someone who has been known as “Little Mallory” at Cardozo.
“Are people going to take me as Ashley?” she said she wondered when she first got to the school. “I want to be known for me, not [Mallory].”
That aspiration is getting closer, if it hasn’t happened already.
Reach Marc Raimondi at mraimondi@
©2009 Community News Group
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