Tepper on top of her game ahead of conference matches
Conference matches are quickly approaching, and junior outside hitter and captain Grace Tepper is sitting atop the leaderboards after capturing her third career Lion of the Week award last week.
Tepper received the honor after she led both the Lions and the New England Women’s and Men’s Athletic Conference with 62 total kills and 4.77 kills per game, leading the Lions to a 2-1 record to start the season.
“It’s nice to be recognized,” Tepper said in an interview. “I’m sure anybody at Emerson would feel good if they got it. The whole team is doing amazing so that’s more what I’m happy about than anything else.”
Tepper credits most of her early success to her teammates and coaches.
“All those numbers have passers and setters, and coach is behind all of them, so it’s a group effort no matter what,” Tepper said.
Head coach Ben Read said he is proud of the steps Tepper had taken since she showed up to Emerson.
“She’s matured, she’s grown a little bit,” Read said. “She’s grown tougher mentally, physically, with more knowledge of the game, and it’s really showing this season. Defensively, she’s been huge, serving as well, so she’s been very consistent.”
Read said Tepper brings leadership that helped her earn a captain position in her junior season.
“She’s grown into a leadership role almost since day one just by the way she plays the court,” Read said. “Last spring she was named one of our captains, along with Albany [Alexander], so she is in a leadership role and assumed by the coaches and the players as a leader.”
Tepper said she wants her teammates to pick up on the way she plays and acts on the court, the same way she learned from her past captains.
“[Alexander] and I learned from the past two captains,” Tepper said. “They were just so good at leading by example and always making sure everyone was where they needed to be, making sure if people were checked out they’d get back in. They just kept the team together.”
Freshman setter Caroline Bond said Tepper is a leader on and off the court.
“She’s one of my favorite people to play with,” Bond said. “She’s a crazy good player, first of all. But most importantly, she’s calming. Sometimes I’ll catch myself getting a little crazy and she’ll just check in and say, ‘Hey, we’re good! Calm down!’ And that’s valuable to me because the position I play—setter—requires a lot of mental focus.”
Bond said that off the court, Tepper is also a mentor around campus and in the classroom.
“The other day, I was complaining about emailing my professors, and I didn’t do it,” Bond said. “Then she came to me said I could come over and she would help me email them if I wanted. So she goes really out of her way to make people comfortable and feel welcome.”
With conference play approaching, Tepper said the team is in a good position for another playoff run.
“I am so excited about this year,” Tepper said. “I was talking to all the players—we talk about it, it’s electric. Things are going so well, everyones clicking so well, and I feel we’re in a very good position going into conference and after.”