Richardson Uses Height to Her Advantage
Sept. 10, 2013
If she wasn’t playing volleyball, senior Meredith Richardson said she would be a Disney Princess.
“I love singing. I always wanted to be one of the Disney Princesses growing up, because they get to sing all the time. If I wasn’t playing volleyball, I would definitely be doing something with my voice,” says Richardson.
Instead, volleyball seemed to work out in Richardson’s favor. Growing up in Brentwood, Tenn., Richardson started playing volleyball during sixth grade.
“When I started playing, I was awful. I only made the team because I was tall and because my sister showed me how to hold my hands in order to hit the ball,” laughed Richardson.
After spending a year on the bench, things started to get easier for Richardson. Due to her height advantage, she was able to start contributing to the team in seventh and eighth grade. She mentioned that once girls started to hit instead of simply pass the ball, she started to do well.
Recalling how she ended up at NC State, Richardson said that she was initially looking for a school that would help to achieve her academic goals.
“I was looking for an engineering school most importantly,” said Richardson. “At first I was narrowing down my options based on how close to home I was. I started getting letters of interest during my freshman year since I was so tall.”
However, it wasn’t just her height that earned Richardson a scholarship to play at N.C. State. Her father was athletic too, and played basketball at Vanderbilt University. Richardson said that her father was a teammate of Lee Fowler, former Athletic Director at NC State.
“My dad came up to me one day and told me that I needed to look into NC State. Being former teammates with Lee Fowler, my dad told me to send my recruiting film to the coach to see what would happen,” Richardson said.
Within weeks of sending in her film, Richardson had found a place that she would be able to call home. After taking a visit to Raleigh and getting to see the facilities and learn about the academic setting, Richardson said she knew she wanted to play for the Wolfpack.
“I committed pretty quickly after visiting,” Richardson added. “I loved the girls on the team, and I knew they offered a great engineering program.”
At the start of her senior year of college in August, Richardson said being a student-athlete isn’t easy, but she wouldn’t trade it for anything. Between classes, practice, homework and conditioning, Richardson says time management is crucial and has contributed to her success throughout her college career so far.
“We practice a lot of hours a day and we are gone almost every other weekend,” she added. “People don’t realize how much time and effort we dedicate to our sports. I am up at 5 a.m. every day during the summer while other people are enjoying the beach.”
Still, Richardson says that she loves the sport and that all of the time put into volleyball is extremely worth it.
This time Richardson has dedicated to volleyball has definitely paid off. This year, she was named one of the four captains for the 2013 season, and was also recently named the MVP of the Golden Griffin Invitational that took place Aug. 30-31 in Canisius, N.Y.
Richardson said that she had to work her way up to earning her starting position and also her leadership role. Last season, Richardson had a career high of 19 kills in the win against South Florida. When asked what was the key to being so successful in that game, Richardson diverted praise to her teammates.
“Megan Cyr (former Pack setter) noticed that South Florida wasn’t double blocking the middle. She gave me a lot of good sets, and I was able to kill the ball. We worked together to figure out what was going to get us the win,” commented Richardson.
Speaking of being a middle blocker, Richardson says that she loves her position and is thankful for her height.
“Being 6’4”, my hands are already over the net without having to jump. If I give a small jump, I’m able to block the ball most of the time against the opposing team.
“I think my height gives me an advantage because I’m not as fast as some of the other girls. It also probably intimidates players on other teams coming up to the net and seeing someone who is 6’4” that you are going to be blocking kills against.”
When she isn’t blocking or making a kill herself, Richardson has been embracing her new role as a captain. She mentioned how she has always been the type of person who has been a leader in the classroom, but that being a leader on the court is completely different.
“I’ve always strived to be a leader by example,” said Richardson. “It has been a different experience learning how to get people to respect you on the court by being vocal and establishing your presence.”
However, Richardson isn’t alone as a captain and mentioned how great it is to have four captains who all have different ways of being leaders.
“I think it’s great that we all have different styles,” she added. “Rachel [Buckley] is always loud and excited when we are on the court. Brie [Merriwether] is always keeping us focused, and Katie [Ganny] is always supporting everyone.”
With her new leadership role, Richardson has also put a lot of focus on her game. Being named the MVP of the Golden Griffin Invitational with 27 kills in two days, Richardson said that she has been getting in a lot of repetition with her setters and focusing on hitting the ball higher instead of straight down into the blockers' hands.
“I’ve been working a lot with our setters, Tanna [Aljoe] and Maggie [Speaks]. When I was named MVP, I was really surprised,” said Richardson. “I’ve never received the award before, but I hope that it happens more in the future.”
While Richardson still has a full schedule ahead of her, she already knows what her goals are for the team and individually.
“It’s important to me to keep proving myself - whether we are playing in a huge ACC match or a smaller match. It doesn’t matter. A match is a match, and I want to always show how hard I can play,” Richardson expressed. “As a team, we want to be in the top third of the ACC and we also want to make it to the NCAA tournament again.”
Written By Kendra Stowe