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ND Volleyball: Olsen leads without stats

Joe Wirth | Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Irish junior middle blocker Andie Olsen is one of the most powerful middle blockers in the Big East. Although she may not have the gaudy numbers of some of her teammates, her play and leadership on and off the court have made her one of the driving forces behind the team’s success this year.

Olsen began playing volleyball in elementary school, and she credits her sister with helping her reach her current level.

“I started playing in the third grade and my sister started playing for the school team when I was younger and I would just pass balls to her off the back wall to her as high as I could and I just got hooked from there. We were very competitive with each other growing up,” Olsen said.

Olsen knew she was talented from a young age, but that belief was not truly validated until she reached high school and began excelling against older girls.

“I always thought I was pretty good,” she said. “I probably thought I was better than I was at the time, but I think my freshman year of high school was when I knew I was good.”

“I made the varsity team that year and that was a real affirmation because my high school had a really strong volleyball program and they had only ever picked a freshman one time before so I was one of the only freshmen to have ever made the team, so that was very special.”

Growing up in California, Olsen was aware of Notre Dame’s prowess academically and athletically. Once the Irish began recruiting her, she said she could not say no.

“I had received a general letter from Notre Dame and I had written them back and began emailing coach Brown,” Olsen said. “They invited me here and I came out to visit and immediately fell in love and there was really no other place after that.”

Although she is a standout on the court for the Irish, volleyball was not Olsen’s first love. She pursued music when she was younger and remains a talented singer today.

“I have been singing longer than I have been playing volleyball,” Olsen said. “I got into music at a young age and I have been singing ever since and I play a little guitar too. It is always something I keep in my back pocket. It is my go-to whenever I am sad or anything like that, but it is not like I am going to be going to any American Idol tryouts anytime soon.”

The Irish begin the Big East championship against South Florida in Milwaukee, Wis., on Friday as the third seed. Notre Dame made winning the conference championship a goal at the beginning of the year, and Olsen said the team is motivated and prepared to return from Milwaukee as champions.

“I really just want to win,” Olsen said. “I think our entire team is set on winning and taking it one match at a time and playing each point as hard as we can, and we are just really, really hungry for a Big East championship. We are getting mentally prepared and are very excited for this weekend.”

Contact Joe Wirth at jwirth@nd.edu