New position, same mindset for Claire Mountjoy

photo courtesy Omaha Athletics

Ray Koch

If you take one look at the UNO Volleyball roster, you’ll notice that freshman Claire Mountjoy is the only libero on the roster. What you won’t find on the roster is the fact that this will be her first time playing at that position.

Mountjoy, who played as an outside hitter all of high school, will be strictly playing libero for the UNO Mavericks in her freshman season. It goes without saying that this is a colossal role for a freshman to take on.

There is enough pressure on freshman athletes starting in their first year at college, but imagine the pressure of doing that at a new position. Believe it or not, pressure is exactly what Claire Mountjoy wants.

“I usually perform really good under pressure because it makes me want to get out there and prove myself and show them what I’ve got,” she says.

Some of her desire to perform under this pressure may have to do with the fact that she is from Omaha. Graduating from Elkhorn South, Mountjoy loves the idea of performing in front of her family and hometown as well.

“It’s cool that my friends and family can come watch me play, plus it’s just easy being close to home.”

To add to her motivation, Mountjoy has enjoyed the switch to libero because it provides her a position with everything she wants. Being a shorter player, she says it can be hard to intimidate players from other teams, and that she prefers playing in the back row to focus on defense. As a defender, Mountjoy likes that the switch allows her to have defense as her only role.

“Playing defense has always been my favorite part of the game, so for me the transition has been pretty easy.”

The libero’s confidence stems from the support of her back row teammates. Junior Mackenzie Horkey and fellow sophomore’s Chloe Dousette and Gessica Gdowski have helped Mountjoy make the transition and maintain her poise under pressure.

“At first it’s hard because it is a whole new level, but they have really been supporting me with defense and showing me how the team works. They also help me stay calm and focused during games and rallies,” she says.

When the first game does come, Mountjoy admits nerves will be in her system. Never having played in front of this big of a crowd, she’s hoping that her nerves “turn into energy,” and that she can just enjoy the moment.

“I just want to get every ball—that’s my mindset.”