Joining Andover Girls Volleyball as the team’s only Junior, Michelle Brunetti ’23 has been involved with the sport for six years as a defensive player. Brunetti stands out for her energy and poise on court, according to teammate Delaney Arkell ’22.
Arkell said, “She has such an infectious, bubbly personality when she really gets going and starts to really participate in practice. She’s amazing on the court, she’s a really solid player, and never really gets rattled. She’s one of the really dependable players, and I think she has all of the best qualities as a teammate.”
For her positive attitude and resilient mindset, Brunetti has received this week’s title of The Phillipian’s Athlete of the Week.
How did you first get involved with volleyball?
I first got started playing volleyball when I was eight because my sister played. Since my sister played, a coach that my sister knew asked my mom if I wanted to try it and I did. Once I tried it, I fell in love with it and kept playing.
What position do you play and what is your role in the game?
I usually play [defensive specialist] or libero, which are both back row defense.
How has your experience been as a new member of the team?
It’s been different because instead of playing with the same girls I’ve been playing with for the last two to three years, it’s now a whole new group of girls who I don’t know that well. But so far, it really feels like a family and I’ve loved getting to know them. They all make me feel really welcome.
Are there any fun team traditions?
I haven’t been on the team for that long, but I really enjoy the psychs before every game and I also really like how we have team dinners at the coach’s house every Friday.
What do you like to do to prepare for a game outside of practice?
Usually to prepare for games, I just listen to music beforehand [and] that gets me really pumped up for the game and excited to play.
Do you have any mentors who have helped you this season?
I think one player that really stands out and helped me a lot is [Adaeze Izuegbunam ’20] because she explained to me what the team was like at the very beginning and introduced me to everyone. She’s been really great throughout the whole process of transitioning.
Do you ever get nervous when people are watching you play? If so, what do you to shake it off?
I do get nervous when people are watching, but I usually try to block it out and just focus on the way I’m playing. I keep in mind to just kind of ignore it, and if I ever mess up on a play– for example, if someone serves it and I shank the ball–I just say to myself in my head, “serve it to me again.” So that helps me get in the right mindset and shake off past errors.
Have you met any challenges yet this season?
One challenge I’ve met this season is being more confident in my playing. Since I’m playing with a new team, I feel like I just need to stay confident in my passing and my ability to play.
What are your hopes for the rest of the season?
My hopes for the rest of the season are to get to know the girls better, keep our undefeated streak going, and beat [Phillips Exeter Academy].