One and a half weeks before the application deadline, Dawson Joyce-Mendive learned the meaning of “post-graduate” as she first heard about Phillips Academy. Thanks to a quick and instinctive decision, Joyce-Mendive found herself on the Andover campus and a key player on the volleyball team this fall. On the court, this outside hitter shows the skill gained from over six years of competitive team play with the most kills in nearly every match-up—as many as 23. Off the court, this Nevada native is relishing her boarding-school experience—something she never would have predicted. Phillipian Sports talks with Dawson Joyce-Mendive to gain insight into her high school experience and volleyball prowess. Phillipian Sports: When did you start playing volleyball? Describe your past experience. Dawson Joyce-Mendive: I started playing volleyball in seventh grade, and until twelfth grade I played for both my school and a club—Sierra Nevada Volleyball Club. My school team was state runner-up for two years. The club was in the top 10 in Nevada twice as well. I played with the same girls for all those years, which was an interesting experience. We were best friends, then we were enemies—we went through a lot together. PS: What was your former high school like? DJM: Douglas High School was a public school with about 2,500 students. I liked it, but I live in a pretty small town where everyone knows everyone. That made for some drama. PS: What made you apply to Andover? What convinced you to come? DJM: I hadn’t heard of PG year until one and a half weeks before applications were due because my cousin, Austin Monahan ’07, was applying. I was already done with college applications, but I didn’t have my heart set on one school, so this seemed perfect. I would still be getting away, and it would give me better options for college. It was an opportunity I couldn’t pass up. When I flew out here, I loved it. Just looking through the course booklet, I was amazed at how many different classes were offered—at my high school, we had three levels of English and that was it. PS: What did you expect from the team before arriving at Andover? DJM: When I interviewed, I talked to Clyfe [Beckwith, Girls Varsity Coach]. I didn’t know what to expect, but he told me I could be 6th or 8th and that I would probably start. It was kind of intimidating; I’d never been that low. PS: What are the differences between Andover’s team and your old team(s)? DJM: There’s a big difference between Western and Eastern Volleyball. In the West, you have to play club if you want to make varsity at your school. Volleyball is serious—you live it, you breath it, it comes before everything. Six of the girls from my club went on to D1 schools, two are playing at Yale, and the rest are still playing as well. In the East, it’s not as intense. We scrimmaged a team from Maine who hadn’t lost a game in something like three years and we crushed them. PS: What are the differences between Andover and your former high school? DJM: My public school is easier. I think I’ve done as much homework so far this term as I did in a year at Douglas. I don’t like being up late working, but it’s nice to be challenged. The kids here—everyone—has such talent. I’ve never been in a place with such diversity. PS: How has the season been so far? What has led to your great success and record of 11-0? DJM: It’s been awesome. At first, I was worried because we weren’t coming together, but after getting to know each other, that changed. I’ve never been on a team with this chemistry. We have so much fun—too much fun. PS: What do you feel you have gained or are gaining from the team? DJM: I have learned to have fun with volleyball again. My old club and school team were so stressful and time consuming—I drove an hour to club practices three or four times per week. I had given up on playing in college, but I’ve started talking to a few coaches now, and we’ll see how that goes. PS: As the season ends, what are your goals for the team? DJM: To win New England Championships. This year, we can definitely do it. We will do it—knock on wood.