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White Line
Dacula sisters imposing forces at net

The milestone event seemed to be inevitable and two years ago it finally arrived at the White household. Little sister Mary Kate was no longer the smallest.

At least in terms of height, when the then seventh-grader rose above her older sister Sara Beth, then a Dacula sophomore.

"I knew it was going to happen," said Sara Beth, now a Dacula senior who teams with Mary Kate on Dacula's 17-5 volleyball team. "The doctors said since I was little that she'd be 6-4 and I'd only be 6-2. So she passed me in height and now I'm the shortest one in the house."

Not that this a short house.

The girls' father Chris, a former basketball player at Central Gwinnett, is 6-foot-8. Their mother Martha is 5-9.

Sara Beth also is 5-9 and Mary Kate, a freshman, is closing in on 6-1, giving the Dacula volleyball team a powerful duo from the same family. The older sister gives head coach Kristy Dermid versatility but logs most of her time at outside hitter, while the tall Mary Kate starts at middle blocker.

"There are ups and downs to (the height)," Mary Kate said. "I always enjoy being taller but I've always looked up to my older sister."

Because of their height, the siblings gravitated to basketball, their father's sport. Sara Beth grew up obsessed with hoops, playing it religiously and following her favorite team, the North Carolina Tar Heels.

She didn't discover volleyball until her freshman year, when she heard Dacula had a team.

"I just decided I should get involved with volleyball, it had the same training and strengths as basketball," Sara Beth said. "Since then, I just fell in love with it. I've always wanted to play it year-round."

She balanced AAU basketball and year-round volleyball with the Athens-based Georgia Juniors until last year. That's when she gave up year-round hoops, opting only to play her senior basketball season for the high school team.

The dedication has turned Sara Beth into a volleyball recruit - although she still has college suitors for basketball. Her current favorite is South Carolina-Aiken, but she also is considering Rollins and Shorter, among others.

Had she discovered year-round volleyball earlier or grown taller, her college volleyball recruiters might have been more from the Division I-A level.

"I'm comfortable with my height," Sara Beth said. "My sister, she's so tall but I don't think I'd be comfortable being that tall. But if it were to get me a Division I scholarship, I'd definitely like to be four inches taller."

At her current height, Sara Beth does plenty for the Falcons. One of the senior-laden team's leaders, she ranks first in kills with 173 for a Dacula team that has impressive wins over Kell and St. Pius.

"(Sara Beth's) so diverse as a player," Dermid said. "She knows every position well because she does so many different things for her club team. She just has that full court knowledge."

And all the wisdom she soaks up, she passes on to Mary Kate.

It started back when Sara Beth first discovered the sport. She got a volleyball from Wal-Mart and showed Mary Kate, who had just been a spectator at her older sister's volleyball matches, the basics.

The younger sister loved it so much that she tried out for the Georgia Juniors, and made it. She entered high school in August unsure of her role on the volleyball team, wondering if she would even make the varsity. Not only has she done that, but she has grown into an exceptional middle blocker who leads the Falcons in blocks.

"If you look throughout Gwinnett County, you don't see many freshmen stepping onto the varsity team and doing the things she's done for us the past few months," Dermid said. "Her size, her knowledge of the game to this point and her parents, they're so educated on everything ....Mary Kate is going to be phenomenal."

She's already made great strides, thanks in part to her older sister.

"Sara Beth's always keeping up our spirit, always keeping our concentration on the game and making sure we're all focused and support each other," Mary Kate said. "I don't really think of her as my sister on the volleyball court. We just get along so well and both of us are doing something we love."

SideBar: The White Files

Who: Sara Beth White

Sport: Volleyball

School: Dacula

Class: Senior

Favorite TV show: Spongebob Squarepants

Favorite sports team: North Carolina Tarheels women's basketball

Dream job: Eighth-grade math teacher and coach; hopes to start volleyball program in Gwinnett middle schools

Favorite class: Careers in Education

Noteworthy:

· Being recruited by USC-Aiken, Shorter, Rollins and others for volleyball

· Leads Dacula in kills with 173

· Also plays basketball for Dacula

· Plays club volleyball for the Athens-based Georgia Juniors

Who: Mary Kate White

Sport: Volleyball

School: Dacula

Class: Freshman

Favorite TV show: Everyday Italian on the Food Network

Favorite sports team: Any North Carolina Tar Heel team except football

Dream job: Teacher or veterinarian

Favorite class: Language arts

Noteworthy:

· Leads Dacula in blocks

· Plays club volleyball for the Athens-based Georgia Juniors

· Also plays basketball