F-M volleyball standout California dreamin’ after college commitment (2024)

Manlius, N.Y. -- None of the basketball coaches at Fayetteville-Manlius took much notice of Andersen Fuller when he was a 6-foot-1 freshman without much of a vertical leap.

But as Fuller sprouted up towards his current height of 6-9, he became pretty hard to miss in the hallways at F-M.

"Our junior varsity coach asked me every day if I wanted to play basketball," said Fuller, now a senior with a bright future in another indoor sport.

The middle/outside hitter for the Hornets is headed to play volleyball at Pepperdine University, smack in the middle of one of the sport's cultural hotbeds.

The Waves men’s program has won five national titles since 1978. They were NCAA semifinalists earlier this year. Earning a scholarship there is like going to play Division I football at a top Southeastern Conference program.

“I really wasn’t very good at basketball,” said Fuller, whose mother played women’s volleyball at Maryland and his dad was a club player there. “I played a lot of sports. Lacrosse was my big thing before I committed to volleyball.”

Fuller was recruited by most of the major men's programs, but his final three were Pepperdine, Penn State and Loyola Chicago.

“It doesn’t happen very often to have a Division I player come out of this league. It’s exceedingly rare,” said coach Chris Gangloff, who has coached F-M for 13 years.

Fuller is a standout on the court - not just because of his size but because he is a force on both sides of the net.

While he plays mostly outside hitter at F-M, his strongest position is middle hitter, a spot that involves more defensive play than the outside positions.

Fuller, who piles up the kills on offense, loves slamming the ball over the net, but his favorite aspect of the game is going up to make a block on his opponent.

"Getting a really good block is probably my favorite feeling," Fuller said. "With hitting, you get more opportunities. But for blocking, even if you do everything right they can still tip it over you or hit it off of your hands."

Gangloff said Fuller’s huge advantage, as a 6-9 player who can jump, is that he can contact the ball when it is still high in the air. That makes many of his shots almost impossible to block.

"He contacts the ball so high, there's no one in our league that's up there consistently," the coach said. "To play at a Division One level, that's where the ball is contacted. They're all playing up at that height. It's a different game at the D-I level."

F-M volleyball standout California dreamin’ after college commitment (1)

The main reason Fuller is playing outside hitter at F-M is to work on his footwork and passing skills. He is still a middle hitter on his club team - Pace Bootlegger of Rochester - and plans to play that position in college.

"Middle hitter has more blocking responsibilities," Gangloff said. "Outside hitter incorporates more passing. You're going to get the ball more."

Fuller said his connection with Pepperdine grew from his club team. One of the Pace Bootlegger coaches, Cal Wickens, has a son who is a junior at Pepperdine and helped make the recruiting connection. Wickens also coaches men’s and women’s volleyball at Nazareth College.

When he was a sophom*ore, the club team traveled to San Diego for a tournament and Fuller was seen by the Pepperdine coach, among others. He took an official visit to the school, located in Malibu, in December 2018 and committed shortly afterwards.

F-M volleyball standout California dreamin’ after college commitment (2)

Fuller, who last summer was named to Volleyball Magazine’s Top 25 underclassmen to watch list, recalls that on one of the days he spent visiting Pepperdine, the temperature dipped to 65 degrees.

"All of the coaches were wearing sweatshirts and sweatpants, and there I was in my shorts and T-shirt," he said.

Despite the attention Fuller has received through his club team, which is nationally ranked, and several trips to compete in camps sponsored by USA Volleyball, he enjoys playing on his high school team. The Hornets were 7-8 in the regular season and are a No. 4 seed in the Division I playoffs. Tonight, they face No. 1 seed and undefeated Cicero-North Syracuse in the semifinals.

"He's incredibly coachable," Gangloff said. "The fact that he still listens to me, after the coaching he's had from guys (in club and on the USA Volleyball staff). The fact that he still listens to me, and never a sideways word. It's nice to have your best player also be your hardest worker."

A top student, Fuller hopes to study business administraton at Pepperdine, but he’s also got plans to keep playing volleyball after college.

"I want to play professionally in Europe," he said. "There are leagues here, but if you want to get paid to play there are big leagues in Russia, Italy, Germany ... and Brazil. That's mainly where you can get paid."

Gangloff remembers a funny moment from early in Fuller’s F-M career.

“I remember him saying something - it must have been in eighth or ninth grade - that he was going to play Division I volleyball,” Gangloff said. “I don’t know who he said it to or where I heard it. But I’m like, ‘No way. There’s no way.’ Where’s he come to in the last couple of years, it took a tremendous amount of hard work. Playing the game all of the time, and he’s a good student of the game. It’s all a credit to his hard work, and the training he’s done to make himself better.”

F-M volleyball standout California dreamin’ after college commitment (3)

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F-M volleyball standout California dreamin’ after college commitment (2024)


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