Junior Deirdre Wilson ’16 has won a National Volleyball title in England during her travels abroad at the University of Sussex. Wilson was one of two Sussex students who joined four other Sussex students that received sports bursaries from the University to represent the Ashcombe Volleyball Club in the Division 1 National League Tournament. On Saturday, March 28th, the ladies were part of a squad that won the Volleyball England National Shield once they defeated tournament rivals Chester Amazons.
Evelin Potocnik, Anri Saso, Tsz Shan Lo, and Celine Ruud were the four Sussex students that received a comprehensive support package as Developmental Athletes at Sussex. Camila Ebbers Fabiani and Wilson joined them to make up the six total participants from the University of Sussex that competed in the tournament. Wilson is a current student-athlete who captains the women’s volleyball team here at Wheaton. With the volleyball season ending in the fall, Wilson took advantage of her time abroad in England to stay active with the sport and continue competing at a high level.
The Ashcombe Volleyball Club lost their first set of the match at the National Volleyball Centre in Kettering, Northamptonshire. Strong performances by Wilson and Ruud, contributing with a number of well-placed spikes, helped the team take the second set. Wilson, along with some great team defense, then continued with some critical cross-court and down the line hits to aid the team in winning the third set. Ashcombe then won the fourth and final set 25-16 to take the 3-1 win and claim the National Women’s Shield.
Without question, the Most Valuable Player (MVP) award was presented to Wilson after serving as Ashcombe’s most essential player in each of the winning sets. Wilson spoke some humble words to the press making it very clear that she thought it was a collective team effort despite standing out as the most valuable player. “I was blessed enough to have earned MVP, but I think the award should be MVT: Most Valuable Team,” said Wilson. “This team is a group of women who I am so lucky to be able to play volleyball with while I spend five months studying in England. We come from all over the world, and the one major commonality we have is our love for volleyball.”
The head coach of Ashcombe, James Clow, also coaches at the University of Sussex. His women’s volleyball program is one of the top-ranked sports teams within Sussex Athletics. His team competes in the British Universities & Colleges Sport Premier League South Division. With NCAA rules and regulations limiting student-athletes who study abroad to compete beyond their time in America, Wilson was fortunate enough to find a way to play without jeopardizing her eligibility for Wheaton.
The Wheaton women’s volleyball team finished their last season with an 18-14 overall record falling short in the NEWMAC Tournament Quarterfinal against Wellesley in a packed Emerson Gymnasium on November 4th. Wilson captains the team and earned both AVCA All-America honorable mention and AVCA All-New England Region honors. She also earned NEWMAC All-Conference second team accolades. Wilson was the first All-American in program history and her dedication and passion for the sport proves to be never-ending as her persistence to get better, and her hunger for championship glory has followed her even during her time abroad.