Volleyball defensive specialist motivates team

OSU junior libero Grace Massey square up to defend for the Beavers versus No. 3 Stanford on oct. 5 in Gill Coliseum. The Beavers lost 0-3. 

Soren Carr, Sports Contributor

After five years of losing to their in-state rival, the Oregon State Beavers Volleyball team upset the #24 ranked Oregon Ducks on Sept. 26 in Gill Coliseum.  

Junior defensive specialist and libero, Grace Massey played a large role in this win, contributing with 2 aces, 7 assists, and doubled the number of digs to her nearest teammate with 32.   

“Beating Oregon for the first time since 2014 was amazing,” Massey said before a matchup against the Washington Huskies.  Massey is used to success on the volleyball court as she has athletic roots in her family with her sister Martie Massey previously playing at Oregon State as well.  

For as long as Massey can remember, sports have played a significant role in her life.  Growing up with her parents coaching her in youth sports, she switched between playing soccer and volleyball.  In seventh grade, she made the difficult decision to focus on volleyball.  

“When I started getting older and the sports got more intense with club, I had to choose one or the other, and I went with volleyball,” Massey said through a text message.  

After making the decision to focus on volleyball, Massey went on to play at Oregon State Athletic Association 6A perennial power in Jesuit high school, in Beaverton, Ore. It was there where she was a four-year letterwinner and helped the team to four straight Metro League titles with back-to-back state championships in 2014 and ‘15.  She began to gain attention from Division I programs, and eventually chose Oregon State.  

“A big influence on my decision was because my sister Martie played here and I grew up a huge beaver fan, so you could say it was in my blood,” Massey said.  “Second, coming here at such a young age, I started to create a relationship with the coaches and I felt very comfortable with them and the school before I even committed.  Third, I really wanted to play at a PAC-12 school.  It is the hardest conference in college volleyball, and I wanted to play at that level.” 

Massey has garnered accolades on and off the court.  She was one of four players to appear in all 33 matches and 121 sets as a freshman, and continued her consistent play in all 32 matches as a sophomore last season.  Massey has also won three separate PAC-12 Defensive Player of the Week awards, and was the 2018 Iowa State Challenge co-MVP.

Massey was also named to the 2018 PAC-12 All-Academic First Team, in a league with strong academics from top to bottom.  “It never gets any easier,” Massey said on managing being a student athlete and having a social life.  “Balancing it all… it’s not easy, but you just gotta do what you gotta do.”  

“Coming from Jesuit was an interesting transition.  We were successful in my years playing volleyball there, but I knew it wasn’t a normal thing that would continue for the rest of my years in volleyball… I wasn’t expecting to be anywhere as successful as in high school, and I was okay with that,” Massey said through a text.

“Being a local kid, growing up in Oregon and only living an hour away from Oregon State, I definitely do have more pride than I think other people might.  Whenever we play at home I have the feeling that I have to defend my home court,” added Massey via text message. 

Sophomore outside hitter, Chloe Brown grew up close to Massey in Beaverton, Ore.  The two used to play club volleyball together and then were opponents in high school, as Brown attended Southridge High School in Beaverton as well.  Brown went to Miami, Fla. her freshman year, but transferred to OSU after a year.

“Grace had a huge impact on me transferring,” Brown said of Massey.  The transition was made easier with a familiar face for Brown, and being closer to home.  

  “She is a very positive teammate, and brings us a lot of energy,” freshman defensive specialist and libero, Taylor Quinn said on Massey’s influential attitude.  “I am never concerned when Grace is in the backcourt saving plays,” added Brown. 

The PAC-12 is known for being one of the toughest conferences in the country for volleyball, because of the consistency in terms of talent.  

“Each game is different,” Massey said.  “Anyone can beat each other on any given night… it’s just what team is hot at that moment.”

While preparing for each game has its separate challenges, Massey likes to keep things loose by avoiding superstitions.  

“I am superstitious about superstitions,” Massey said. “If I did one thing a lot one week, I want to change it up the next.”

While avoiding superstitions, Massey led the OSU Volleyball team to back-to-back home wins against Oregon and Colorado a couple weeks ago.  They followed with two tough home losses to #19 Cal, and #3 Stanford.  Massey verified her point that anyone is beatable, noting that their opponent of Washington on Friday, Oct. 11 had handled Stanford on their own court two weeks ago.

Massey claims her drive stems from her parents. With the team’s record vastly improved from last season at this point, OSU Volleyball sits at a season record of 8-7 and at 2-2 in conference play with a crucial stretch ahead of them, sitting in a five way tie for fifth place in the conference.

“It’s hard to lose,” Massey said.  “A lot of us are motivated… so we can leave this program in a better place than it started.”  Massey and Brown are both convinced that the program is on the rise, largely in part from the two of their leadership roles on the court. 

Following the OSU Volleyball team’s trips to both Washington and Washington State, they return to Gill Coliseum Friday, Oct. 18 to face the Southern California Trojans. 


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