Westmoreland County Senior Spotlight: Norwin’s Sophia Alvarez

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Sunday, November 20, 2022 | 1:09 PM


Coming into the season, it was unclear how Norwin’s girls volleyball team would fare.

Nine of the 12 returning players for the team were seniors, but according to senior setter Sophia Alvarez, a large number of those girls do not play volleyball as their main sport.

The Knights started off 0-4, but quickly put together a three-game winning streak and eventually locked up a playoff spot and a first-round matchup against Bethel Park.

Norwin lost a five-set thriller, but Alvarez said she was still pleased with the season.

“We were a completely different team by the end,” Alvarez said. “Even though we lost, we definitely put up a good fight in the playoffs.”

Alvarez was named to the all-section team.

As a setter, Alvarez is a bit on the taller side, standing 5-foot-9. That’s about average for an NCAA Division II or fringe Division I setter.

Alvarez talked about the advantage she feels her height brings to the court.

“Having the height helps me a lot, especially when I’m playing front row,” Alvarez said. “If (the ball’s) there and I’m up, it’s a lot easier to hit because I’m higher up on the net.”

On the academic side, Alvarez also flourishes. She completed an internship last summer with the University of Pittsburgh’s Center for Biotechnology and Bioengineering.

Alvarez noted how positive that experience was for her future.

“It was honestly one of the coolest things I have ever experienced,” Alvarez said. “I learned so much about cancer research.”

Alvarez also plays a second sport in the spring, lacrosse.

She is looking at a few colleges and would like to major in biomedical science as her undergrad and pediatrics at medical school.

Now that her season’s over, Alvarez took some time for a Senior Spotlight Q&A:

How did you get started with volleyball?

I started by playing at Queen of Angels volleyball in about fifth grade. I originally played basketball there because basketball was always my main sport. They also had their own youth volleyball program going on there, so my mom kind of encouraged me to start playing there.

How do you feel about being named to the all-section team?

I’m just really excited about that and extremely grateful. I wasn’t expecting to get first team, and so that meant a lot to me that people were noticing the work that I put in. It was a really great feeling to get that honor.

What’s your biggest strength?

I would say my biggest strength is not getting in my head as much. Our team kind of struggled a little bit mentally, but as a setter, I knew that I had to focus on keeping each set great. I couldn’t really get in my head and let up on a set. If I made a mistake or made a dumb play, I’m usually really good about saying, “Hey, forget about it.”

What is your favorite memory from high school volleyball?

If I had to pick, one thing that stuck out was probably my junior year when we had the Pink Out game against Penn-Trafford. The energy in the gym that we had was insane. I think that was probably the only time that we took the whole game off PT in my entire career because we usually lose to them. But our gym had so much energy and everyone was having so much fun. We ended up pulling off a win at the end, so I’ll never forget about that game.

Why do you decide to play multiple sports?

It definitely just keeps me in shape. I’m not the kind of person that can just sit around and not do anything. That aspect of having something to do is really nice. My parents have always encouraged me to play multiple sports and to work out with different muscle groups. Playing lacrosse is so different from the muscles that you use in volleyball. It just keeps me really well-rounded. I met a bunch of new girls. I have my volleyball friends and my lacrosse friends. It’s such a whole new world and the things you experience are so different. It’s just really nice to have that balance between two different sports.

What is one thing that people may not know about you?

A lot of people know that I’m smart in school and play sports. But I also really enjoy art. I was supposed to take AP Studio Art this year, and the teacher really wanted me to take it, but there was no room on my schedule. A lot of people don’t realize that I enjoy art and I’m really good at it too. It’s just something that you don’t see from a lot of athletes and people that are really smart.

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