Maggie Wise named NESCAC Player of the week

By Niamh Carty

Courtesy of Shirley Mao

Maggie Wise ’22 has helped lead the Middlebury volleyball team (8–0) to its strongest start in program history — and she was named NESCAC Player of the Week in the process.

In the team’s 5–0 opening week, Wise hit .417, averaging 3.8 kills per set. After a home opener straight-set sweep over St. Michael’s College, the Panthers attended the Wheaton Invitational, where Wise, an outside hitter, earned 28 digs, six block assists and six service aces.

Though Wise and other seniors are in leadership positions this year, they were sophomores when they last competed. Several players in Wise’s class have been getting playing time since their first year, which has helped with the transition process.

“We essentially have two freshman classes because the sophomores have no real game experience,” Wise said. “The St. Mike’s game was a good way to get everyone playing time.”

Wise said she knew the team could go 5–0 at the Wheaton tournament after their win against St. Michael’s College.

Courtesy of Shirley Mao

“Our level of play has been awesome, and I think everyone, in spite of not having that playing experience, has stepped up to the plate,” she said.

In her last competitive season in 2019, Wise was named to the Second-Team All-NESCAC and was ranked seventh all-time for kills per set at Middlebury, averaging 2.90. Head coach Sarah Raunecker remarked on Wise’s seamless shift despite the missed season.

“Maggie arrived as a very talented hitter and has grown in her ability to mix up her shots, her consistency and is hitting with even more power now,” Raunecker said. “She made an immediate impact with her physical skills but has emerged as a more vocal and confident leader over the years.”

Wise commented that the year and a half off due to the Covid-19 pandemic did provide some silver linings for the team as they were able to take time to reassess their team dynamics. One way the team has worked on this is through creating a list of various words and themes — including composure, grit, grace, respect and integrity — for the team to stand by. 

Wise mentioned that these words hold more meaning behind the scenes and noted they have been a beneficial way for the team to remain focused on their values and goals, even when not playing competitively.

“Maggie is consistently one of the best players on the court yet remains so humble about her abilities as an outside hitter,” teammate Lucy Ambach ’23 said. “Off the court, Maggie has such a good relationship with everyone on the team. MCVB is so lucky to have such a responsible, strong and confident leader.”

Off the court, Wise is an Economics major and Architecture minor as well as participates in  community friends, a program that connects children in Middlebury with college students. Middlebury’s volleyball team has been running workshops and practices with Middlebury Union High School’s newly-created volleyball club, a great help to the school given that volleyball is not widely played in Vermont. 

Since Maggie’s Player of the Week nomination, Middlebury has bested Colby-Sawyer, Colby and Bates, each 3-0. The Panthers have only dropped one set thus far in its 8-0 campaign. Middlebury hosts a conference game against Amherst, who is also undefeated, at 7 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 24.