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New-Look Women’s Volleyball Team Off to a Strong Start
New-Look Volleyball Team

Volleyball season is underway, and the new-look team is attracting attention from everyone on campus and around the community. Attendance for home games is up, and there is a buzz on Instagram whenever a volleyball clip is posted.

Senior middle blocker Nina-Marié S. ’23 has enjoyed a phenomenal start to the season. She has 29 kills and ten ace serves in the last two games alone. She is well into double-digits in multiple categories already.

Volleyball is very much a team sport, and Nina-Marié credits her standout performances to her squad. “My teammates deserve all the credit. They pass the ball well, and then give me a great set that showcases my strengths as a hitter–I could not put those numbers up without them.” The team is playing more confidently and with greater resilience than ever, coming off two years of uncertainty due to the pandemic.

Head coach and Director of Volleyball John Hedlund, a former two-time All-American volleyball player at USC and professional player, deserves much credit for how the team is looking now. “He has brought a certain level of professionalism to SD, which has, in turn, improved team culture,” says Nina-Marié. “There is a purpose to our training sessions, and his way of coaching has challenged us in new ways.”

Nina-Marié is relishing this opportunity to work with Coach Hedlund. “He gives us the space to figure things out and guides us in the right direction when needed. This approach is new, as I am accustomed to more direct and uncompromising coaches. It took us a moment to figure out how to work together, but I think we have it down now.”

Coach Hedlund thinks highly of Nina-Marié, as well. “She is a great leader and has tons of potential. She is the most vocal on the team and does a good job leading this group of young women.” Nina-Marié is thriving in her leadership role and is looking forward to accomplishing many goals during her senior season. “I want SD to win more games and make the playoffs. Individually, I would like to continue developing into a well-rounded player so I can play at the collegiate level.”

Once the season ends, Nina-Marié will return to playing club volleyball with local powerhouse Absolute Volleyball, where she hopes to compete in another national championship.