Middle blocker Jesse Ebner ’16 is finally back for the Yale volleyball season after missing the first half due to injury, and she is looking to lead the Bulldogs to their fifth Ivy League championship title. In 2012, she finished second on the team with a 0.313 hitting percentage, earned three Ivy League Honor Roll mentions and was nominated to the Yale Invitational All-Tournament team. The following season, Ebner went on to hit a team-best 0.422. The News spoke with Ebner about the moment she decided she would play volleyball over any other sport and the Bulldogs’ outlook for the remainder of this season.
Q: What are the team’s goals for the last four conference games of the season?
A: The obvious goal is to win, but we just want to finish up the season playing really well as a team. We want to be playing together and having a good time on the court and working hard, and if we do that, then we know we will be successful. But even if we don’t win but we’re working hard and playing together, then we know it will still be fun.
Q: How do you guys bounce back from a loss like this weekend’s?
A: We have to learn from that loss, but basically we’re just moving forward because we have four more games to win — four more games we have to focus on — so we can’t dwell on this weekend. Harvard came out and played really well, and we just didn’t show up the way we needed to. Now that that’s over, we have four other teams to focus on. We had a meeting and talked about what to do moving forward, and now it’s just back to the grind.
Q: What was your volleyball background before playing in college? Have you played middle blocker your whole life?
A: I started playing competitively when I was in eighth grade, and I played for Vision Volleyball Club in the Bay Area and then for my high school team. I have moved around positions a little bit. For a while, I played right side, and I’ve also played outside before. I’m not a super traditional middle because I have played other positions before, but from the beginning I’ve played middle.
Q: What’s the best and worst part about being a middle blocker?
A: Well, I can tell you the worst part. You can do your job completely right and be in the right place for every point and still not touch the ball, so that’s hard. And it’s just a position that requires a lot of hard work. But I’d say the best part is getting blocks. You have more opportunities to get blocks, and that’s just the best feeling ever.
Q: What was the most memorable moment in your volleyball career?
A: As far as influencing my choice to play volleyball over other sports, when I was 13, it was my first year playing competitive club volleyball, and we won a medal at junior nationals. So it was my first year playing, and we did so well. And my senior year, my club team was amazing, and we won [roughly] 80 matches in a row without losing. We had a couple tournaments that year where we had some close games that were so hard-fought, but we came out with a win in every game. So that was a great ending to my career before college.
Q: Do you plan to play volleyball after college?
A: I don’t see myself playing after college. There are leagues in Europe, but unless you’re one of the top players in the world, it’s difficult to actually make a living doing it, so it’s almost just something people do for one or two years after college just to get volleyball out of their system. I will miss volleyball a lot, definitely, but I think it will be time to move forward with work and a career.