Women’s volleyball player awarded Defensive Player of the Year

By Jason Tulchin

Sophomore libero Caroline Davis was named the New England Women’s and Men’s Athletic Conference Defensive Player of the Year for the 2021 season.

At the collegiate level, Davis is no newcomer to NEWMAC honors––being awarded Defensive Athlete of the week of Sept. 13, and later for the week of Oct 24. Davis said the team’s positive atmosphere helped enhance her play throughout the season.

“We want the whole team to do well,” Davis said in an interview with The Beacon. “We’re all supportive of each other and we all have very high energy and that helps.” 

Being named NEWMAC’s defensive athlete of the year for women’s volleyball meant a lot to Davis. The award carried special weight as her first year in collegiate volleyball was stripped away by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I was very surprised when I found out,” Davis said. “I was actually in class when I found out and I was super shocked. I immediately texted my mom and my family members and they were all super supportive and congratulated me.”

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Women’s volleyball head coach Ben Read saw Davis stand out early in the season and get even better as it progressed. She’d shown strong skills as a libero in the preseason and only continued to impress afterwards––racking up a number of two-point passes.

“I didn’t anticipate her doing quite as well as she has this year, but I knew she had the potential to go ahead and do that,” Read said. “She showed pretty early in the preseason that she was a frontrunner for libero … her passing wasn’t quite where I wanted it to be, nor her serving, but her defense was unbelievable … her last week of the season was her best passing. For conference play, Caroline Davis was our best passer.”

For Davis, the accomplishment was a sign that her hard work had paid off, and motivated her to get better––not only for herself, but also her team next season. 

Davis said her family and the rest of her support system helped her achieve such high heights. 

“They have been a huge support system through my whole volleyball career and now moving into the collegiate level they have been even more supportive,” Davis said.

Davis thanked assistant coaches Jake Girard and Molly Likes for giving her advice in timeouts and keeping her mentally in the game. Davis also attributed much of her success to her teammates, whose support and skill carried the Lions to victory.

“Without them and without their support, I would not have made it this far and I thank them tremendously,” she said. 

Davis was also one of 33 student-athletes named to the NEWMAC Academic All-Conference team after having an above 3.5 GPA this semester. Athletic Director Patricia Nicol said Davis’ achievements reflect the quality of the program.

“To have the NEWMAC Defensive Player of the Year, that’s a remarkable feat,” Nicol said. “When we continue to make progress that we’re making, I think that it raises the confidence in everyone that we really can be a leader in one of the most competitive conferences in the country, both academically and athletically.”

The Lions would post a conference record of 6-4 which gave them the fourth seed in the NEWMAC Playoffs. This is where their season came to a halt, but the impact of Davis’ play did not go unnoticed.

The star libero has come a long way since playing at Doctor Phillips High School in Orlando. After her play in high school and the Orlando-Tampa Volleyball Academy club team, she got the attention of Read. Before this contact in one of Davis’ offseasons, she was unaware of Emerson College’s existence.

“I hadn’t even heard of Emerson until Ben reached out to me,” Davis said. “I looked at [Emerson’s] majors, and I found a major that I really thought I would enjoy, so I decided on coming here and playing for the Lions.” 

Davis is a communications sciences and disorders major and training to become a speech-language pathologist. On the court, she looks forward to her junior season and plans to improve her game.

“This will encourage me to work harder and get better, not only for me but for my coach and team as well,” she said.

Tyler Foy contributed reporting