Hailing from Arlington, Tex., Chioma Ugwonali ’20 joined Andover Girls Volleyball during her Junior year. Ugwonali began playing volleyball in the seventh grade at her local YMCA after growing tired of competitive swimming. Soon after, she joined her middle school’s “A” team. Heading into her second season at Andover, Ugwonali has proven herself as dynamic player as a middle and right side hitter, according to Co-Captain Serena Liu ’19. Liu said, “Chioma is such a bright light; she brings a positive spirit to the team and she never ceases to make me smile. She is an amazing player up at the net. Her ability to make such a killer hit or play the ball smart never ceases to amaze me.”
What do you enjoy most about volleyball?
As a sport, this is kind of cliche, but being on the team is one of the best things about volleyball. The dynamic, definitely, is what gets me going everyday. I feel like it’s just one of those sports that is competitive, and there’s no contact with the opponent, so I’m all for that… I like hitting — hitting and blocking people and just the competitiveness. At Andover specifically, I love my coaches. Coach Clyfe Beckwith and Coach [Victor] Svec are both really nice guys and role models for me on campus.
What is your pregame ritual?
Before games, I like jumping around a lot. Usually before games, I’m just in a daze. I’m kind of foggy, and I think, “What am I going to do this game to make it good?” I like to hop around a little and swing my arms around a little bit — kind of like Michael Phelps before he dives in the pool. I also like listening to rap music.
What is the most exciting part of a volleyball game for you?
The most exciting part is definitely having a good lead, maybe being three, four points ahead of the opponent because it is always fun to win. I also like especially getting a good block, which makes me feel good — or also one of my teammates getting a good block because we are all really supportive of one another. And, of course, I like to hit.
What are your hopes for the rest of the season?
For the rest of the season, I want to win. I know we’re not going to win every game, but each game I want us to learn something — every single one of us on the team to learn something about ourselves and our skills that we can improve upon for the next game so that, ultimately, we can win the championships. And also, I want everybody to have a good experience this season, especially our three freshmen.
What are your goals for volleyball?
I definitely want to work on smarter plays, which would be not always hitting every single ball, so like some tips, some good positioning. And also, my mama always tells me to have strong hands when I’m blocking, so I’ll work on that. As a team, I would say consistency. We are a reaction team which means we play in the moment, which is good, but I feel like we should have a plan sometimes and sometimes really just focus on the next point instead of just jerking for the ball… [Also] be mindful [of] where you want the ball to go when you touch it, so basically consistency.
What wisdom would you pass on to future volleyball players?
I would say “believe” because it is simple in theory, but actually trying to believe in yourself and your abilities and your team is so important… and you definitely have to trust in their skills and your own so that you can succeed. I would just say believe that you can get better… so actually try.