Allie Sundara (senior), captain of women’s volleyball, finished her volleyball career at Occidental by reaching 1,000 assists during her senior game Oct. 27 against Caltech (3–0). Throughout her career, Sundara has made 1,014 assists, 65 service aces and 182 kills in 72 matches over three seasons. During her first year on women’s volleyball, she was right-side hitter, and for the last two years, she’s been setting. Sundara grew up in Santa Barbara and has been playing volleyball since she was ten years old.
According to Sundara, what goes into executing an effective assist is a really good pass from her teammates.
“A lot of the props have to go to our passers and our diggers, and communication from the hitters telling me if they want to be set or not,” Sundara said. “But a lot of it has to do with a good pass.”
Sabrina Degnan (senior) is the other senior captain alongside Sundara. According to Degnan, 1,000 assists is an enormous feat for Sundara, because it means that she did her job as a setter, which is to put the ball into positions that allows the hitters to make a final play.
“Without her, there wouldn’t be any kills,” Degnan said. “So the fact that she has 1,000 assists, it means she’s very accurate and she has good precision. She knows where to put the ball and she knows where to connect the hitters. I think it’s awesome that she reached it because she deserves it.”
According to Sundara, she feels motivated by her teammates and her competitive nature.
“I’m really competitive, so just being able to compete at a high level is amazing,” Sundara said. “I love being pushed by my coaches and by my team. The ability to always get better and constant growth, that’s my motivation.”
According to head coach Heather Collins, Sundara is a well-rounded player that easily adapts to wherever she is needed on the court.
“Whether she is starting at setter or being thrown into a hitting position, she always is happy to accept the challenge and do whatever she can to help her teammates,” Collins said. “As a leader, she is super competitive, which pushes her teammates, and she knows what it takes to step up and lead the team by working hard and expecting a lot of herself.”
Sundara said that she was unaware she was on track to make 1,000 assists until the day of the game.
“I didn’t actually know I was going to get 1,000 assists until the day of the game,” Sundara said. “I walked into the gym and one of the girls was like, ‘You’re about to get 1,000 assists.’ And I was like, ‘Damn, that’s really cool!'”
Sundara is an extremely hard worker and a very positive force on the team, according to Degnan.
“We always say that she’s the sunshine of our team because she always knows what to say and how to boost the team up when we’re getting down,” Degnan said. “She’s extremely smart, she knows what to do, where to put the ball. She works hard on and off the court and in the weight room. She’s very sociable and good to work with.”
According to Collins, Sundara has grown into a more confident player through her years as a starter on the team.
“Every year, her ball control has gotten better, which helps center our team,” Collins said. “So whether she is setting and controlling every second ball, passing to stabilize the serve receive or hitting around the block, Allie finds a way to better the ball consistently.”
According to Degnan, Sundara has done an excellent job motivating her teammates this season as captain as a result of her sociable and competitive nature. Sundara’s comforting presence is what made the team such a cohesive unit, according to Degnan.
“Over the summer, she did a really good job reaching out to girls to make sure they were working out and doing the lifts properly so that everyone was in shape when they got here,” Degnan said. “She did a great job of motivating girls because she’s very competitive. She knew how important each game and practice was.”
Sundara’s mother, Marti Ogram, said Sundara has been a hardworking and able athlete since she was young.
“In my eyes, she’s like an Olympic athlete,” Ogram said. “She’s been athletic since she was a toddler, but she has been really focused on volleyball since she was 12. Ever since she started to play volleyball I saw her competitive drive come out.”
Ogram also believes that Sundara has natural leadership abilities.
“When she started out, the technical skill of the game was most important to her,” Ogram said. “It has really evolved to the more human side, like bonding and raising the energy of the team. She’s grown into this wonderful human being who knows how to bring a group together and raise the bar for everyone.”
Women’s volleyball wrapped up the season at 8–16 overall and 3–13 in SCIAC play.