Women’s volleyball setter stands out in conference

setter

Freshman setter and right-side hitter Sophie Srivastava tips the ball over the net as Chapman junior outside hitter Nayelli Munoz looks on. Chapman played Pomona Pitzer at home Sept. 25, winning 3-1. Photo by Gabriella Anderson

Freshman setter and right-side hitter Sophie Srivastava received The Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SCIAC) Offensive Athlete of the Week award Sept. 10. Unsure of how to navigate the Chapman Athletics website, Srivastava, a psychology major, didn’t know she won the award until her friend brought it up at practice.

“It was pretty crazy, especially because I didn’t really know what it was at first,” Srivastava said.

Motivated to play volleyball by her mother, who played Division III volleyball at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Srivastiva said when she struggles to juggle school and the sport, her mother helps her manage.

“She’s my biggest inspiration and she definitely helped (with) managing time and talking me off the edge,” Srivastava said. “Her experience was not as great as what I’m doing at Chapman, but she was definitely (told me) ‘You should do Division III.’”

Head coach Mary Cahill said that after receiving the award, Srivastava continued meeting the coaches’ expectations.

“It’s a great honor, especially as a freshman,” Cahill said. “They don’t have to be Athlete of the Week every week, we just want them to be consistent. She has been that, and that’s a great thing for a freshman.”

Women’s volleyball has a record of 15-2 so far this season and 6-1 in conference. The team’s chemistry is its main strength, Srivastava said.

“Everyone’s always supporting each other,” Srivastava said. “We have our own team meetings without coaches or with coaches so that we get to talk about what we’re feeling.”

Advice from older teammates helps Srivastava improve her game, she said. She said bonding with them off the court translates into success on the court.

“All the freshmen this year are really tight, we get dinner together,” Srivastava said. “Being on a team with them and also being friends with them makes it so much easier.”

Srivastava’s friend and teammate, outside hitter Jessi Lumsden, said Srivastava is a well-rounded athlete.

“(She brings) a lot of energy, a lot of talent, a lot of skill. And a lot of trust,” said Lumsden, a freshman. “She’s playing one of the hardest jobs on the court, defense, hitting, setting. She’s doing everything and she’s doing a really good job.”

Despite the typical struggles of freshman year, Cahill said Srivastava has excelled at adjusting to the collegiate athlete schedule.

“Volleyball, the actual game, might be a little faster for her, so that takes a while to get used to,” Cahill said. “It’s mainly just the growing pains of a freshman, but she’s done really well. Not a lot of freshman can step in and perform as well as she has.”