Leading the team isn’t always about having the highest number of kills or digs. It’s not about who can block the most or who can set up the best play. But it is always about heart, and that’s where senior libero Angela Puente is at the top.
“Angela has demonstrated strong leadership skills from the first day she stepped on campus at Notre Dame,” Irish coach Debbie Brown said. “Even as a freshman, she wasn’t hesitant to speak up in team meetings when she felt strongly about something. She has the ability to have a strong opinion, but at the same time be open to hearing others’ views and accepting them. “
Puente’s leadership skills earned her the title of Notre Dame’s co-captain this season, a role she has been preparing for since day one, and a role she held her senior year of high school as well.
Since stepping onto the Irish court, Puente has been showcasing her skills as a player as well, stepping into the role of libero and learning to analyze other teams’ game plans as a defensive specialist. In her rookie season, she was second on the team in digs with 276, averaging 2.82/set. That included a six-match streak with twelve or more digs.
Puente’s sophomore season was highlighted by another year of strong performances, as she played a key role on a squad that made it to the final round of the Big East Championships against Louisville. The season also included Puente and classmate Megan Dunne sharing the libero role with junior Frenchy Silva,
contributing to a highly successful Irish defense. But sharing her role has never bothered Puente, an attribute that stood out to her coach.
“She has always been a strong team player, whether she has started or been a substitute,” Brown said. “This has helped her to relate to all on the team and to be sensitive to how her teammates might react to the various roles they have. Angela is one who always puts the team first.”
Puente continued that trend last season, where she had one of her most successful seasons all around. Her effective receiving skills, which have aided her in the past, allowed Puente to have 10 errorless matches. She made a second consecutive appearance in the Big East Championships against Louisville, helping the Irish battle through a five-set match with Ohio in the NCAA Tournament.
Puente has been using her role as captain to help keep her teammates focused, on and off the court, with her strong communication skills. Although her volleyball career will end with the conclusion of the season, Puente isn’t letting that stop her from holding on to two team goals she hopes to see achieved this season.
“Well there’s no professional league in America, and the beach tour just got cancelled, so my volleyball career is going to be over in three months,” Puente said. “But we’re going out with a Big East title and a spot in the NCAA sweet 16.”
Puente and the Irish will return to their home court this Friday with the hopes of turning their recent two-match losing streak around and defeating conference foe DePaul in the Purcell Pavilion.