Sophie Vauiso capped off her career with North Haven volleyball this year as the middle hitter, nabbing 132 kills and 33 blocks to aid the Nighthawks’ bids to the SCC and Class L state tournaments. Photo courtesy of Sophie Vauiso
Sophie Vauiso finds great satisfaction in the break-neck, frenetic pace of the game of volleyball, and her affinity for the sport was reflective within her personal career by swiftly moving to a new court assignment for the North Haven volleyball team after her freshman year.
The senior middle hitter’s first taste in the Athletic world came as young as 4 years old when she competed in softball. Upon arriving at North Haven High School, Sophie earned her way onto the Nighthawks’ volleyball squad, a sport she seemingly seamlessly transitioned into.
Not only did Sophie switch her hitting alignment from outside to middle after her Rookie campaign freshman year, but she was also part of a North Haven group that reached the quarterfinals of the SCC Tournament prior to earning a bid to the Class L State Tournament semifinals last fall She then concluded her Nighthawks’ stay by posting a 2022 season stat line of 132 kills and 33 blocks as the team went 12-7 in the regular season to return to both the SCC and Class L state draws.
“Volleyball is a lot of fun to play. It’s fun to watch because it’s fast-moving, plus it’s so much fun to play with my friends on the team,” Sophie says. “My coaches really taught me everything I know about the sport. I play the way I do because of them.”
It was also Sophie’s coaches that saw her stature and decided to make the switch to middle hitter in the early going of her tenure, and she details that it forced her to kick her brain and brawn into first gear via being in the hotbed of the action around the net.
“I played outside hitter my freshman year, but then my coaches noticed I was tall, so they moved me to middle hitter,” says Sophie. “I feel I had my best season this past year. I was proud of how much I have grown in the position. Things move much faster as a middle hitter, because you are right next to the steer, so you have less time to make a decision. It took time to get my timing down, but I got used to it.”
Through her tremendous transition towards center court, Sophie collaborated with her coaches and set-up Squad mates to feel more at home with her new slot to ball swat, as she Additionally garnered even more admiration from her teammates as an upperclassmen leader who saw everyone as her equal.
“With playing middle hitter, I got better every day by working with the coaches and setters, because I learned something new every day and got more comfortable with the position,” says Sophie. “Senior year is bittersweet because I won’t play volleyball again. I grew up with the younger girls on the team through playing softball, and I got along with all of them. I never saw myself as being better than them simply because I was older than them.”
While watching her develop into a well-rounded player and leader, North Haven volleyball head Coach Brianna Kleckner was just as amazed by Sophie’s Dedication to not only her craft but also her ability of setting the best examples to the future of the Nighthawks’ program.
“Over the course of Sophie’s four years with North Haven volleyball, we have had the pleasure of watching her tremendous growth,” says Kleckner. “She is everything you could ever hope for in a student athlete. She comes to practice ready to learn, she always gives 100 percent heart and hustle, and she celebrates the successes of her peers. She has been a leader on our roster through and through, and we couldn’t be more proud of Sophie and all she has accomplished with our program. She has been essential to our success these past few years—she is certainly leaving some big shoes to fill.”
The Nighthawks may not have repeated their deep 2021 postseason march this fall by taking SCC and Class L first-round defeats for 2022, though Sophie finds Solace in the fact that North Haven was a confident bunch that left no stone unturned while bolstering the program’s pedigree within the ranks of the SCC and state.
“Last year our run to the state semifinals was very exciting,” Sophie says. “We had a couple of obstacles this year, but I was proud of the way we all believed in ourselves and helped change the reputation of North Haven volleyball.”
With the ups and downs and momentum swings of volleyball, Sophie reflects that her time on the court helped cultivate crucial composure and calmness to tackle any deficit in a set or, more importantly, any adversity that may appear in her future.
“With any sport, it is very easy to get frustrated,” says Sophie. “Yet with volleyball, we had to work through it as a team. I learned how to stay positive and happy. Playing for North Haven taught me a lot about being a good leader, the importance of teamwork, and not letting my emotions get the best of me.”