By Joe Naiman
Julie Voorhes, who was Ramona High School’s libero during the 2012 high school volleyball season, is now the libero for the Smith College women’s volleyball team which is ranked in the New England Women’s Volleyball Association poll for the first time since the NEWVA rankings began.
“We’re doing really well right now,” Voorhes said.
Smith College began the season with five wins — the first time the Pioneers have won five consecutive matches — and had a record of 8-1 prior to a three-match losing streak.
“We started really well,” Voorhes said.
The Pioneers ended that losing streak Sept. 28 against Framingham State to give Smith a 9-4 record. Voorhes had 14 digs in the match against Framingham.
In four of the first nine matches Voorhes exceeded 20 digs, including the Sept. 21 match against Babson where she contributed 28 digs. Babson won the first two games of that match before Smith won the final three sets.
“That was a huge victory for us,” Voorhes said. “It was a very big upset.”
On Sept. 18, the day after the Pioneers’ three-game win over Clark, the NEWVA poll ranked Smith College 12th. The representatives from each New England conference rank 15 teams based on record against region teams, strength of schedule, head-to-head competition, and record against common opponents.
Smith College is in Division III of the National Collegiate Athletic Association. NCAA Division III schools do not have athletic scholarships, so Voorhes’ agreement to play for Smith this past spring was a commitment rather than a signature of a letter of intent. Voorhes sought a Division III school so that she could play volleyball.
“I also didn’t want a school that didn’t let me do any academics,” she said. “I’ve got a pretty great balance right now.”
Voorhes was researching Division III colleges as a high school senior and contacted Smith College coach Fran Vandermeer.
“She actually came down to see me play volleyball,” Voorhes said.
Vandermeer saw Voorhes play during a practice in Ramona’s gym during the 2012 high school season. Voorhes is one of four California players and three Southern California athletes on Smith’s 14-woman roster. Smith College is located in Northampton, Mass.
Smith College had two weeks of pre-season practice prior to the Pioneers’ first match.
“That was really hard. We just had tons of practice,” Voorhes said.
Voorhes began the season as Smith’s starting libero, making her one of two freshman starters. An injury to the other freshman left Voorhes as the Pioneers’ only starting freshman.