Sarah Szybist, a first year Biomedical Sciences major, has all the makings to be a great volleyball player, according to her head coach Jim Lodes. Her height (she's 6'1") and quick movements allow her to excel as a blocker and an attacker. The Liberty League seems to agree, having recently recognized Szybist for five consecutive weeks, a feat that Szybist described as “shocking.”  


The Liberty League is a member of the NCAA’s Division III. The league includes ten schools and hosts championships in 26 different sports, including volleyball. It recognizes athletes in every sport from different schools each week and also gives away yearly awards based on their statistics and performance within their sport.


Szybist won Women's Volleyball Rookie of the Week on September 2 and September 9. She was then recognized as Women's Volleyball Player of the Week on September 16. Finally, Szybist was awarded Rookie of the Week again on September 23 and 30, ending her month-long reign over the Liberty League website. The Liberty League has her back on their radar with another Rookie of the Week award on October 15. Her repeated recognition is certainly based on her performance: she is tied for ninth nationally in Division III for kills per set (spikes that the opposing team cannot return) and 11th for points per set as of October 8. 


According to the Liberty League website, by September 28 Szybist had made 324 kills — no other Liberty League player has even reached the 200 kill mark. According to RIT Women’s Volleyball head coach Jim Lodes, Szybist was able to achieve such high statistics because the team can count on her to finish a set.


Lodes has high hopes for Szybist as she continues her volleyball season and career at RIT. “She has the potential to be very decorated,” explained Lodes. “Obviously she can be all-conference, hence the awards so far, but she can also be all-region. She’s gifted enough to be all-American.”


Despite her impressive statistics and the extensive recognition in such an early stage of her career, Szybist is humble for an athlete that has scored 494.5 points in her season thus far. When asked why she believed she had received such recognition, the athlete laughed and said she didn’t really know. “I think it’s largely based off statistics,” said Szybist. “I get set a lot, and I can be trusted to put the ball down.”


Szybist is looking forward to her volleyball career at RIT and hopes to lead her team to a Liberty League Championships, then to the NCAAs. “It would do wonders for our program,” Szybist said selflessly. “I would love to be a part of the team that did that.” The team has a ways to go if they want to turn around their 11-15 record (1-3 in Liberty League contests) this season, but Szybist has several more years to help lead her team to the top.


Catch your chance to see Szybist and the RIT Women’s Volleyball team live on October 15 at the Clark Gym as they play against SUNY Cortland. The match will begin at 6 p.m.