Heather Holton impresses in first season at university

Heather Holton, first-year outside hitter, is among the team leaders in kills. (credit: Courtesy of Carnegie Mellon Athletics) Heather Holton, first-year outside hitter, is among the team leaders in kills. (credit: Courtesy of Carnegie Mellon Athletics)

A first-year outside hitter and undeclared Dietrich College student, Heather Holton has already established herself as a threat on the volleyball court.

By just her fifth week with the Carnegie Mellon volleyball team, she has already brought home honors as the Eastern Collegiate Athletic Conference (ECAC) South Rookie of the Week.

She did not stop there, however. After her stellar play in a 3–0 sweep of the 20th ranked DePauw University at the end of September, she took home the University Athletic Association (UAA) Athlete of the Week title, UAA’s highest weekly award.

“I did not expect to get recognized so soon,” Holton said, but her play spoke for itself.

Holton’s competitive nature and composure help her more than anything on the court.

“[Volleyball] is based [on] mentality,” she said. “We try to get in people’s heads and talk across the net.”

Holton said that she brings a cool head to the floor, which allows her mind to stay in the game, even as others get rattled by noise coming from Carnegie Mellon’s side of the court.

Her focus is apparent in her play as well, for she consistently is among the team leaders in kills, which lights up the scoreboard for a very successful Carnegie Mellon team.

Not all of those kills come from mindset, though. Holton has honed her skills through her favorite drill, Vegas, in which a player receives a series of “free balls,” that they attempt to hit for points.

If she scores the majority of the free balls, she receives a money ball for all or nothing. The practice has paid off, and not just for Holton.
Carnegie Mellon upset Mount Washington, ranked at the time fifth in NCAA Division III, in mid-September.

Carnegie Mellon won the first and fourth sets by tight 25–23 scores, handing Mount Washington their first loss of the year. Holton cited this win as her proudest moment in her short time with the team.

“It showed our potential,” she said. Carnegie Mellon’s 15–4 record to this point indicates that she was right.

Holton has spent six years playing volleyball, and her dedication to the sport is apparent.

She said she appreciates its impact on her life despite her demanding schedule, and welcomes the challenge to stay organized and committed, balancing her life as a student with her life as an athlete despite the massive time commitments to both.

She is a competitive person who likes to be active, and volleyball appeals to both these interests.

Holton also is grateful for the friends and support volleyball provides, including senior right side hitter Ali Celentano, who she refers to as a mentor.
“We’ll compete with each other,” she said. “Sometimes, after a match, I’ll tell her ‘I had more kills than you’ or she’ll say ‘I had more kills than you.’”
For Holton, volleyball is about the team more than anything. “Mostly,” she said, “I’m proud to represent Carnegie Mellon volleyball.”