Newly added Mountaineer Athena Ardila has only played two matches for the West Virginia volleyball team but is already making an immediate impact by adding veteran leadership and great play.
During an unusual season, the team added Ardila in between the fall and spring seasons. The senior transferred from Northeastern to West Virginia, and Ardila joined the team in its return to practice in January 2021.
WVU head coach Reed Sunahara was looking to add more players during the break in the season, and he did just that by bringing Ardila onto the team.
“I thought we were limited in our depth, especially during the fall. So, [she’s] adding to that, [she’s] bringing experience and [she] brings more weapons to what we need,” Sunahara said.
Before coming to WVU, Ardila played at Northeastern for her first three years of college as an outside hitter. Ardila — a Weston, Massachusetts, native — was recognized on the All-CAA (Colonial Athletic Association) Team for her junior year. In the 2018 season, Ardila recorded a career-high 337 kills on the season, averaging 3.18 kills per set.
Sunahara said that Ardila will help the Mountaineers compete at a high level in the competitive Big 12 conference.
"Athena will give us ball control, experience and another arm to help us compete at the highest level," Sunahara said. "She has great aspirations to continue her career after college, and she wants to play at the next level."
So far, Ardila has been nothing but exceptional for the Mountaineers in her first two matches with the team. Due to COVID-19, the volleyball team is playing non-conference games after playing a Big 12 schedule during the fall.
In her debut match for WVU on March 12, Ardila recorded nine points in four sets of play. The senior had eight kills against Western Kentucky.
Just a week later, Ardila had another impressive performance against Delaware. The outside hitter finished with 13 kills in four sets — which was second on the team against Delaware. Spiking the ball wasn’t the only skill Ardila showcased, as she recorded a serving ace and three digs. Ardila finished with 15 points on March 19.
As the spring season for the WVU volleyball team begins to end, Ardila will look to continue to adapt to the culture of the program as the Mountaineers are fighting for an NCAA Tournament bid in August.