The Brown women’s volleyball team overcame a fifth-set deficit to defeat Yale in their first game of Ivy League play Friday. Kate Sheire ’24 led the Bears offense, scoring 21 kills and blocking three shots to help bolster their defense, while setter Cierra Jenkins ’24 contributed a team-high 48 assists. The victory — Brown’s first against Yale in eight years — extended the Bears’ current win streak to four games.
Sheire, who leads the Bears roster with 136.5 points over 11 games, added to her already-stellar rookie campaign with the performance against Yale. The Ivy League announced Monday that Sheire — whose 21 kills led all scorers in the first week of conference play – was selected as both the Ivy League Rookie of the Week and Ivy League Player of the Week Monday.
Joining the Ivy League in their recognition of her accomplishments, The Brown Daily Herald has chosen Sheire as its Athlete of the Week.
Herald: You were recognized as both Ivy League player of the week and rookie of the week. How does it feel to be recognized that way in a league with so many talented players?
It felt so surprising, to be honest, but it felt really incredible. I was so thankful for my setter, honestly, Cierra Jenkins — when you’re a hitter on a team, you can’t do anything without your passers and your setters. They have to do it first, so the immediate thought was gratitude for them. It felt really great to tell my parents and my friends who know how much work that we all put into this. Getting to see the outcome like that was also very special.
Herald: This is your first year of play after last season was canceled due to COVID-19. How does it feel to come in as a rookie and make such a significant impact right away?
I think it was only possible because of the support of those older girls who have actually experienced playing real games and gone through the whole process of the preseason and then entering a season. It was interesting because most of our starters and a majority of our players are young so it was a very new thing, but I feel like there’s a lot of support there from the older girls and we really cultivated a culture that made us comfortable and confident going into the season.
Herald: Do you feel like going through that missed season together made you and your teammates closer as a team?
Definitely. (In the fall) we were doing Zoom calls weekly when we were supposed to be having our freshman year ... and there was way more reaching out and contact through text messages and FaceTime calls and just little life updates. We were really trying to form a culture while being unable to be together physically so when we finally could be together, it just made it that much faster to really mesh as a team. This is one of the closest teams I’ve ever been a part of.
Herald: How did you approach the challenge of physical training and preparation during COVID?
There were optional workouts that we were getting from athletic training and from our coaches encouraging us to stay active, but with volleyball clinics not really happening a lot of girls had to get creative. I personally was playing grass volleyball all throughout the fall in an adult league so that was a way that I was able to stay active and get some more experience. But it was definitely difficult. One of the things that helped was that we had a lot of check-ins — we had a volleyball Snapchat group chat that was just dedicated to little exercises and workout check-ins.
Herald: How important was it to get a win in the first game of Ivy League play?
Our thought going into the game had always been that it was most definitely a possibility to win and to just go in with our strongest foot forward and display all the work that we had put in during the preseason. We went into it with that headspace rather than focusing on a win itself. And I think that definitely showed in the back and forth nature of the five sets, but it was definitely very special. I found out after the game that it was the first time Brown had beaten the Yale volleyball team in eight years and was just the second win against Yale in the past 15 years. It definitely felt important to put that message out there for the rest of the league to see before we go into the rest of the season.
Herald: The game against Yale went five sets, including a comeback at the end. Can you take me through that final set and how you guys pulled out the victory?
(The fifth set) is always shorter than the fourth set so it’s a much different type of energy — there’s much more urgency. I think some of our less experienced players might have gotten a little bit shaken for a second, but we were able to fall back on that team support and look at our teammates. We had one time-out where one of my teammates pulled us in and said, “We’re all here, right? We’re all ready to do this.” And we just kind of locked in and we were able to hold on there.
Herald: What individual and team goals do you have for the rest of the season?
Our goal is to go to the NCAA tournament. That’s always the goal. That’s what our headspace is focused on — but we take it one day at a time, so we definitely want to take on Cornell and Columbia strong this weekend to get us closer to that. Personally, I just want to keep forging connections on this team and I want to see us grow closer together and work through some of our smaller issues — just really be focused on what we’re trying to do.