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Women's Volleyball Gets Boost from Freshman Class

Mindie Project
Freshman outside hitter Mindie Mabry is part of a quartet of first-years that has led the Harvard to a 6-2 Ivy League start. The Crimson has two key road matches this weekend against Columbia and Cornell.

Experience is the best teacher.

This makes the recent success for the Harvard women’s volleyball team all the more impressive, with an extremely young squad that features four freshmen sporting important roles on the team.

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Only teammates for a few months, these freshmen have already made a noticeable impact for the Crimson. Sitting at 11-6 overall and 6-2 in the Ivy League, Harvard has put itself in a position to compete for a league title at the end of the year.

The task of starting college volleyball can seem daunting to a freshman. Adjusting requires intense preparation and strong team chemistry.

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“Everyone is just really welcoming and friendly,” freshman libero Sydney Vach said. “They don’t really take your age into consideration, just your skill, and it’s great.”

Despite Vach already having racked up 88 digs on the year, no one expects the adjustment from high school volleyball to Division I competition to be easy for any student-athlete.

“The adjustment has actually been a lot easier than I expected,” freshman hitter Mindie Mabry noted. “I got to find my way around campus, the girls got to show me where I would eat, where all my classes would be, and they showed me the ins and outs, like the Annenberg etiquette.”

Although the student-athlete lifestyle has its intense challenges, being a member of such a tight-knit community that looks out for one another makes this transition as smooth as possible.

“I think being on the team has really made it a lot easier than it otherwise would be,” freshman hitter Evelyn Gray said. “They just help with everything, from classes, moving in, and adjusting. Already coming in you have this great group of friends, and that really made things a lot smoother.”

Without a doubt, the leadership and openness of the upperclassmen has helped this young team to bloom into an Ivy League contender.

“I think we have a lot of leaders on this team, and the way our team is structured, being older doesn’t make you a go-to leader necessarily, whereas everybody is involved in setting the example,” said senior defensive specialist Heather Sigurdson.

“We try to welcome our freshmen very openly when they come in, and they’re very accepting of their positions and see where they fit in best on the court,” senior hitter Paige Kebe said, “And this year, per usual, the freshmen have been really great additions and they fit really well personality-wise.”

The underclassmen have a tough road ahead of them, and some adjustments are harder than others.

Freshman hitter Sandra Zeng touched on her vastly different background and the adjustments she had to make at Harvard.

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