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ND Volleyball: Senior Eppink leads Irish on court

Laura Coletti | Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Senior middle blocker Hilary Eppink has always been tall, but she has been growing athletically since she first picked up volleyball when she was young. Initially a swimmer, Eppink became interested in volleyball because her height would be advantageous.

“I started playing volleyball in about the fourth grade in a city league, nothing real competitive,” she said. “Honestly, my parents wanted me to be involved in sports where height could be used to my advantage. After that first year, I was hooked. I thought it was so much fun, and I enjoyed going to practice every day. I got more serious as I’ve gotten older, but I’ve still enjoyed the game. It’s always been fun for me.”

Although she had always enjoyed volleyball, Eppink didn’t start to consider playing at the collegiate level until she reached high school.

“Volleyball started to get competitive once I hit middle school, because that’s when all the girls started playing club volleyball,” she said. “I started getting recruited when I got into high school, and I started trying to get more exposure through club play.”

Eppink fell in love with Notre Dame’s campus when she was recruited out of high school. During her freshman year, she tried to constantly absorb her surroundings and learn from her coaches and upperclassmen. She has been constantly improving, and has been a mainstay in the Irish rotation since her sophomore year.

“I think coming in [as a freshman] I didn’t know what to expect,” Eppink said. “I knew the game was going to be a lot faster and at a much higher level than what I was used to. I didn’t expect to start or play much, so whenever I did get the opportunity, it was exciting and a lot of fun and I tried to do my best. My goal was to take it all in and absorb all the information, and try not to overthink things.”

This year, Eppink has assumed a leadership role both on and off the court. She’s started 11 of 14 matches played and is fourth on the team in kills.

“I’m being more vocal on the court,” she said. “Freshman year, I was very quiet. We had a lot of upperclassmen, there was a lot of leadership established, and I wasn’t very vocal. It’s important to be vocal on the court. That’s something I’ve really improved on, just always talking to my teammates and being encouraging and being louder on the court.”

Eppink’s leadership is helping the Irish (10-6, 3-1 Big East) toward their goals of winning the Big East. Notre Dame continues their conference schedule this Saturday when they welcome Connecticut to Purcell Pavilion.