Volleyball Player Serves Success

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Success can take many forms at the collegiate level, but one thing is for sure: a student-athlete must find a good fit to ensure success. For sophomore libero Ellie Murphy, West Georgia fits just fine. 

Attending a college far away from home can be a hardship, especially for an incoming freshman. Coming out of high school, Murphy had some looks from the Division I level, but wanted to attend a Division II school because they are often smaller and more academically oriented. That fit came to her with University of West Georgia.

Murphy hails from Middletown, Ohio, and has called Carrollton her new home away from home for a year now. Her transition from one town to the next has been one of ease.

“This university has been everything I could have expected and more,” said Murphy. “It fits me very well and I have really enjoyed the coaching staff here.”

Murphy will be a sophomore on the court next year, but will be a junior in the classroom. She is in the Honors College and is majoring in Environmental Sciences.

The ambition to succeed in the classroom translates to her career as well, as Murphy has aspirations of joining the Peace Corps after graduation. If that weren’t enough, she also plans to move on in her academic career and earn a Ph.D as well.

“The Peace Corps looks really good on a resume and I enjoy volunteering to help make a difference in peoples’ lives,” stated Murphy. “I also want to be involved with conservation plans to better our environment.”

Expressing a love for the environment, she says if she were an animal she would like to be a sloth because they are very lethargic and live in tropical environments. But more than that, sloths are also adaptable creatures so she feels this best describes her.

“You can adapt or die,” said Murphy. “That’s the motto that I live by. It may sound strange… but it is important to be prepared to make a change when the need presents itself.”

That motto was put to the test on the UWG volleyball court throughout the 2009 volleyball season. At midseason, Murphy was thrust into a new position due to a need that her team had.

Murphy began her collegiate volleyball career as the Wolves’ libero, a defensive position. She played that role well and was in a position to become West Georgia’s single-season leader in digs. But in mid-season, that all changed, as UWG setter Taylor Mense went down with a bout with mononucleosis. Murphy was asked to fill in.

When a regular fan is watching a volleyball match, it can look as if every player is out there to simply hit the ball, but the libero and setter have two opposite roles. To put it into the language of another sport, Murphy went from playing middle linebacker to quarterback.

“The two positions are very different and every setter runs things differently,” said Murphy. “It took a few games for both me and the team to adjust to the new role, but we caught on and that made us stronger as the year went on.”

The adaptation was one that very few volleyball players have done, but Murphy stepped in and kept her team afloat until Mense was ready to return. But, she isn’t a superhero, she has doubts and fears on the court and is just as superstitious as any athlete.

“I like to be the first out of the locker room for some reason,” said Murphy. “I also have to have my socks rolled up to one particular part of my leg before I play a match.”

While Murphy settled into her role of adapting to be the Wolves’ starting setter in 2009, she expects that to be a part of her history in 2010, as the team has brought in more help at that position for the coming year.

“There are backup setters for this upcoming season so I can stay at my old position of libero,” Murphy said. “I plan on stepping up my game for this next year and improving myself so I can take on more responsibility as a team member and also take on more of a leadership role.” states Murphy.

From libero to setter, college student to eventual Peace Corps member and beyond, Murphy’s life seems to be about adaptation. And that seems to be a perfect fit.