Bear Spotlight: Volleyball Seniors

Bear Spotlight: Volleyball Seniors

By Ellie Lieberman
Athletic Communications Intern 

The Washington University in St. Louis women's volleyball program will honor five senior student-athletes prior to their final set of home matches on Saturday, November 2, at the WU Field House. Senior Day presentations will begin approximately at 9:45 a.m. prior to the Bears' 10 a.m. first serve against Centre. 

Seniors Zoe Baxter, Emily Jayne, Leila King, Chloe Stile and Hannah Turner reflect on their time as members of the WashU volleyball program. 

Zoe Baxter

Why did you come to WashU?
I came to WashU because I felt it was the perfect balance of academic rigor and highly competitive athletics. I also fell in love with the campus when I first came to the volleyball Elite Camp. The icing on the cake was the amazing people that work and attend this school. I just knew I wanted to be one of them.

What's your favorite game you've played in?
There are so many, but my favorite game is beating Emory in the UAA championships by Sophomore year.

What's your favorite off-the-court memory at WashU?
My favorite off-the-court memory would have to be all the bus trips we have been on as a team. We always get closer and share so many funny moments together. I love the bonding aspect of the bus trips! 

What are your biggest takeaways from Coach Walby?
Coach Walby has been an amazing mentor for me throughout my four years and she has taught me so much. If I were to choose the biggest thing I have learned from her it would have to be that you have not earned anything unless you work hard for it. Hard work and paying attention to details are at the core of her values and I think she teaches all of her players what this means every time we step in the gym. 

What have you learned from your teammates?
I've learned something from all of my teammates. I think that is what is so amazing about playing volleyball at this school. Everyone is so smart and brings something unique to the table. More Specifically, Ifeoma Ufondu, who graduated last year, taught me what it means to give everything you have to a team besides the physical aspect. This has really helped me develop as a player and as a leader because I have focused on communication both on and off the court, not just my personal volleyball skills. 

What are your post-graduation plans?
After graduation I am going back to California and have accepted a position with Gap Inc. as an Incoming Rotational Management Program trainee. I am really excited to be closer to where I grew up but will miss my Bear family!  

Emily Jayne

Why did you choose to come to WashU?
I choose WashU because I wanted to experience something outside of the Pacific Northwest. I have always wanted to settle in Portland, but also have the opportunity to see something else. Living in the Midwest initially was a culture shock, but I am so thankful for my time here. I also appreciated the athletic academic balance that WashU offered, and of course, the potential to win a national title. 

What's your favorite game you've played in at WashU?
The entirety of our 2016 national tournament run is a memory that I will cherish for the rest of my life. Playing in a national title game is something that just can't be replicated. Beating Emory on their home court for the UAA title my sophomore year was also pretty sweet. 

What's been your favorite off-the-court memory at WashU?
Outside of the gym, I volunteer as an EMT with the campus emergency response organization. Serving the students of WashU has been both a humbling experience and huge opportunity for growth. While I won't necessarily miss responding to 911 calls at 3am, I will miss the friends and memories I've created. 

What are the biggest lessons you've learned from your family, considering you have a long volleyball lineage?
Having both a mother and an aunt who are volleyball national champions has actually been a blessing. They have been huge role models in how to act both on and off the court. It is really useful to have an informed outside opinion I can consult when I am having issues with my own game. While they have provided much support and advice the past 13 years, the biggest gift they have instilled is just love for the sport. At the end of the day there is more than just the titles. The strength I've gained and friendships I've made are invaluable. 

What are your post-graduation plans?
I am currently in my first year of a Master of Public Health with a specialization in health policy. Next year, I will be back on the Danforth campus to complete my graduate degree. After that I plan on finding a position in research or policy formation. My hope is to work on policy related to the expansion of equitable healthcare. 

Leila King

Why did you choose to come to WashU?
I chose to come to WashU because I wanted to have the chance to win a National Championship and play competitive volleyball while getting a world class education. WashU attracts a special type of person, and Coach Walby and the rest of our coaching staff purposefully recruit not only based on talent, but on the character that a player and her family has. That makes the volleyball team really special, and I feel lucky to be a part of this group. 

What's your favorite game you've played in at WashU?
My favorite game that I have played in at WashU is our UAA Championship match during my sophomore season in 2017, in which we beat Emory in 4 sets to win the title. Matches against Emory are always extremely competitive in this rivalry, and this match was no exception. You could feel how badly everybody wanted to win, and the energy and the talent level in that match was unbelievable. Both of our teams played in the Elite Eight in 2016, and you had some of the best players in D3 going at each other. Coming out on top that day felt great, especially because we lost to Emory in the semi-finals of UAA championships the previous year. 

Why did you choose your major?
I'm majoring in Political Science with a concentration in International Affairs because I am extremely interested in US foreign relations, the political landscapes of other countries, and more specifically, counterterrorism and US Intelligence and Defense. Along those lines, I am minoring in Arabic because it is an extremely important skill to possess currently in US foreign relations and defense. I am also really passionate about learning about the Middle East and its countries' cultures and traditions. My Environmental Studies minor has given me further insight into the Middle East in a different way, with most of my courses pertaining to energy governance in this region and its effects on the stability of the Middle East and the global oil market.

What are your post-graduation plans?
After graduation, I plan on working in the Intelligence and Defense field, hopefully in the public sector.

Chloe Stile

Why did you choose to come to WashU?
I loved that WashU gave me the opportunity to prioritize academics while also playing high-level volleyball. 

What's your favorite game you've played in at WashU?
My freshman year I played in the National Championship, and it was an amazing experience. 

What's been your favorite off-the-court memory at WashU?

This past summer I was a bridesmaid in my teammate's wedding. 

What's the biggest thing you've learned from Coach Walby?
learned to pay more attention to details. 

What teammate have you learned a lot from?
I learned a lot from Lauren Fournier. She worked hard on and off the court, was always humble, never complained, and put the team before herself. 

What are your post-graduation plans?
I am currently looking for a job in BME, but I am pretty early in my job search.  

Hannah Turner

Why did you come to WashU?
I chose to come to WashU because of the opportunity to compete at a high level in athletics and simultaneously pursue a high-level education. I also loved the people I met when I visited, both on the team and off.

What's your favorite game you've ever played in?
It's hard to choose just one, but I think one of my favorite games is when we beat Colorado College last year. They were a highly ranked team and we came out with such a fire and determination to win and it was such a fun game to be a part of.

What's your favorite off-the-court memory at WashU?
It's even harder to choose an off-the-court memory, but our team always has a lot of fun on road trips and we have endless stories and inside jokes from all of those bus rides and flights.

Why did you choose your major?
I chose biomedical engineering because I love problem-solving and engineering, but I also have an interest in the healthcare field and this degree program was a perfect combination of the two.

What are your post-graduation plans?
My current plan is to find a job in the industry, and right now I am interviewing for several different positions.