WashU Volleyball Senior Bears Q & A

WashU Volleyball Senior Bears Q & A

St. Louis, Mo., Oct. 24, 2018 – The No. 12 Washington University in St. Louis volleyball team hosts six teams over the weekend during the Baden Invitational which will feature its senior night match on Friday, Oct. 26 at 7 p.m. against Wartburg in the WU Field House.

Prior to the match, the Bears four senior student-athletes will be recognized. The class of 2019 helped WashU to an overall record of 104-29 in four seasons on the Danforth Campus. During this time the Bears won two University Athletic Association (UAA) Championships and made three appearances to the NCAA Tournament including a run to the National Championship match in 2016.

WashU volleyball's four seniors: Julianne Malek, Lauren Martin, Natalie Stephanus and Ifeoma Ufondu reflected on the past four years with WashU Assistant Sports Information Director Kevin Stiner.

Why did you choose WashU?

Julianne Malek: I've wanted to go here since I took a tour with my family at the start of high school, when my sister was looking at colleges. Ultimately, though, when I revisited senior year I loved the campus and appreciated that WashU has great academics.

Lauren Martin: I chose WashU because I wanted to go somewhere where I could be challenged both academically and athletically. I knew the volleyball program was really strong, and there was enough variability in the academic programs offered which was awesome since I came in undecided. 

Natalie Stephanus: I was told by one of my high school coaches to choose a school for academics first, and then look at volleyball. I was incredibly interested in WashU academically, and the minute I set foot on campus and was able to chat with Coach (Vanessa) Walby and the girls on the team, I knew I wanted to be here. 

Ifeoma Ufondu: WashU had everything I needed in a school and program. Excellent academics and a competitive team where I knew that I could grow as a player and as a young woman. Not to mention the team and the coaching staff were amazing.

What is the biggest highlight of your WashU career so far?

JM: I think in terms of a confidence booster, all-tournament team at the Elite 8 sophomore year was the best. But overall, my first national player of the week award was probably my favorite, that's the one I can remember being most excited about.

LM: Probably going to Nationals my sophomore year. It was such a cool experience, and was a super fun time with the team over the course of two weeks.

NS: Making it the Elite Eight our sophomore year and getting to the National Championship match was definitely a highlight for me. Although we didn't get the outcome we wanted, all of the memories from that trip are something my class still talks about all of the time.

IU: I think playing in a national championship match.

What is something that the average fan does not know about you?

JM: I generally talk to myself on the court in between plays. Usually something along the lines of, "c'mon self, pick it up".

LM: I only wear one contact (left eye), but it is pretty crucial to my performance.  

NS: I played as an outside hitter until I came to WashU! 

IU: My middle name is Erica.

What is your biggest success off the court at WashU?

JM: I think I've become a lot more outgoing and confident in myself as a result of all the friends I've made here and my support system of coaches, advisers, and professors.

LM: Honestly, I would say personal growth over my four years. I've become a stronger, more confident individual, student, and friend. I think I've prepared myself to grow more professionally in my post-grad years. 

NS: Over the summer in between my sophomore and junior year, I was given an undergraduate research grant from WashU that allowed me to create and execute my own research project focusing on Informant Reporting for Personality and Health Measures.

IU: Just being a student and being able to play a sport and survive at an institution like this.

What are your post graduation plans?

JM: I'll be interning at Deloitte next summer in their audit practice here in St. Louis and then coming back to WashU for one more semester to finish off my Master of Accounting.

LM: I'm currently in the interviewing process for multiple jobs post-grad. I'm looking to be in the healthcare industry, likely at a healthcare products/services company. My dream city is Chicago and I'm looking at a few companies there, and I was recently offered a healthcare position in Chicago which is definitely a possibility.

NS: I'm not sure yet, but hopefully I'll move back to Denver and do something along the lines of data analysis. 

IU: Nothing set in stone, still looking for a job to call home.