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Wednesday, October 4, 2023


Freshman makes impact on program

During high school, Olivia O’Dell recorded 2,304 digs and helped her team to three Regional Quarterfinal appearances. | Bethel Glumac/The Daily Cougar

During high school, Olivia O’Dell recorded 2,304 digs and helped her team to three Regional Quarterfinal appearances. | Bethel Glumac/The Daily Cougar

To see her before a match, you’d probably be a little surprised by the calm sense of self she carries, and freshman Olivia O’Dell says it’s always set her a little apart; it probably runs in the family.

“I’ve played (volleyball) since I was in third grade,” O’Dell said. “My sister played when she was younger too, so I guess I followed after her. It’s just been part of my life ever since. We had a recreational league in my hometown, the Garland Volleyball Association. My friends from school were playing so I decided to join and see what it was all about. It ended up taking me in.”

The seemingly always smiling O’Dell arrived at UH from the suburb of Rowlett. Her decision to attend UH can be traced to exactly who recruited her and where they ended up going.

“I was actually recruited by the coaches who had been at Houston Baptist, who are here now,” O’Dell explained. “They helped me get myself here because of the coaching change over at Houston Baptist. That’s how I got here and I’m happy about it.”

O’Dell said she was initially nervousness after arriving at UH to play for their well-respected Division I program.

“It was a little bit intimidating, I’m not going to lie,” O’Dell said. “With some of the upperclassmen on the team, I was kind of intimidated at first because they’ve been here for so long. There are set rules and what they want us to accomplish and what they expected from us. It was all about getting into that mindset. It was a little bit daunting, you know, a work in progress. It still is.”

The community bred from day-after-day practicing together is easily detectable on the court, as well as off.

“Honestly, it can get a little frustrating at times, but I think it’s a really cool experience,” said O’Dell. “You really get to bond with people and it’s just been a good experience. Off the court can be a little different; some of us like to go out and have fun and some are more reserved, I guess. Or that might just be me, actually.”

O’Dell’s on-court experiences have been memorable in several ways. She can easily recall her feelings from her first game.

“It was kind of nerve-racking because you had fans here that had never seen you play,” O’Dell said. “It was like you felt you need to prove yourself a little bit. I was a little bit nervous, but once I got into it, it was just another volleyball game. I just love the game so much when I’m competing at any level.”

Athletics aside, O’Dell has had to deal with a change in scenery as well as grades — from living at home to living on campus, while being a part of UH’s Honors College. Though she said that isn’t the biggest change she’s gone through since she’s moved down from suburban Dallas to cosmopolitan Houston.

“The weather is the biggest thing,” O’Dell said.

“It’s super humid down here. In Dallas it’s not really like that,” she said. “It’s been interesting trying to make the adjustments down here. I’m a very family-oriented person; I like being around my family. I have a little brother — he’s three — so it’s kind of hard being away from him. Even though I get to visit, I don’t get to see him grow up, in a way. It’s been a little difficult, but I’ve been getting used to it.”

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