Red-shirt sophomore integral part of volleyball team


Photo by Sam Robinson

Sophomore middle/right side hitter, Ashley Taylor, prepares to serve the volleyball against IU East on Friday.

Written By Dara Collins

Even though she started her volleyball career late in comparison to others, Ashley Taylor has accrued many accomplishments.

“Turns out, I was good at it,” Taylor said.

As a freshman, Taylor became the second most efficient hitter on the team and the third most effective blocker. She was awarded First Team All-Conference alongside fellow Pioneer Shiloh Simonson. Likewise, the duo made the AVCA-NAIA All Northeast Region Sections Team for the 2014-15 year.

Unfortunately, due to academic issues at Point Park, Taylor took a year off to attend Community College of Allegheny County to gain credits. She remained close to the team during her break, and she is now back as a sophomore volleyball player and an academic junior.

When asked what quality the team missed the most about Taylor, only one thing came to their minds.

“We missed her positive attitude,” senior Emily Meng said. “She brings the whole team up with her. After she gets a kill, she has this amazing smile and she’ll light up.”

While Taylor is a vital hitter for the Pioneers, her optimistic mentality matters just as much to the team.

“We definitely could have used her, but she’s on the pace to continue her performance from freshman year,” Coach Mike Bruno said via phone interview.

Bruno has faith that she will continue to improve her skills at such a young stage.

Taylor explains Bruno’s coaching methods are tough sometimes, but they are in her teammates’ best interests.

“He gives us hard love, but it’s obviously for the best,” Taylor said.

Taylor practices hard and watches her teammates to better her skills. During her first year as a Pioneer, Taylor looked up to then sophomore, Shiloh Simonson.

“I want to be like Shiloh,” Taylor said.

Taylor describes Simonson as an amazing hitter. While Taylor still respects Simonson’s skills, Taylor boosts her confidence up with her own words of wisdom.

“I tell myself I’m the best,” Taylor said.

Aside from watching her teammates to acquire new skills, she takes notice to their character off the court. Nicole Inquartano, known as “Inky,” is a role model to Taylor.

“If I were to look up to anyone off the court, it would be Inky,” Taylor said. “She is so nice and so funny. She is always herself, and she’s not afraid of that.”

Better known as “Shlee” to her teammates and friends, Taylor is a quiet girl but a fiery player.

“She’s a quiet leader, and she’s a competitor,” Bruno said.

Her quiet nature may have influenced her choice of major at Point Park. Taylor focuses on attaining a degree in psychology, and she aspires to become a guidance counselor for middle school students.

While the North Hills native is not far from home, Point Park proved to be the perfect fit as other colleges such as University of Dayton, California University of Pennsylvania, Clarion University of Pennsylvania and others did not suppress her love for the city atmosphere. However, she holds a desire to venture to California in her future.