Admittedly, Sydney Busa was nervous.
It was the first collegiate match for the freshman outside hitter. Elon University was playing the University of Maryland, a school that competes in the Big Ten Conference — the league that sent two teams to last year’s national championship game. And, she had the pressure of being in Elon’s starting lineup.
But whatever butterflies ran through Busa’s stomach Friday, Aug. 29, in Alumni Gym didn’t show on the court. She recorded 10 kills (second-most on the team) and 10 digs while Elon fell in four sets to the Terrapins.
“I was definitely nervous,” Busa said. “It was definitely a transition for me, [this] being my first college match. Once I got on the court and figured everything out, it was good.”
Busa’s effective first match carried through the rest of the Elon Phoenix Classic, Elon’s annual home tournament. She had 11 kills in a four-set victory against San Jose State University and hit a team-best .381 with 10 more kills in Elon’s loss to Liberty University.
It seemed clear all weekend that the Leesburg, Virginia, native came in geared up for the next level of her career.
“She came in already one of us, kind of,” said junior outside hitter and captain Megan Gravley. “She didn’t need a lot of priming for college volleyball. She was already pretty much up there. It was a great transition to just add one more to the lineup.”
Busa played at Heritage High School, where she tallied more than 1,000 kills in her career. She led the DC-Metro area in kills during her senior year and was a three-time all-district selection.
For Busa, adjusting to the speed of the game wasn’t nearly as tough as acclimating to the strict schedule of preseason camp.
“It was hard at first, just going from doing whatever we want at home to a strict schedule — volleyball, two-a-days, lifting,” Busa said. “It’s such a family environment here. They welcome the freshmen in and make us feel part of the team.”
Elon head coach Mary Tendler was impressed with what Busa had to offer during the preseason, but admitted she wasn’t sure how Busa’s collegiate debut would fare.
“You never know what a freshman’s going to do in her first match,” Tendler said. “She’s a really calm player, very calm, very collected. You never see her get down, or too high either. She did just what she does in practice.”
Elon players raved early in the preseason about how Busa and Michelle Klein, a freshman middle blocker, had stepped right in to compete for spots. Busa made the most of her time to earn three starting jobs in the opening weekend of play.
Because of that, those nervous jitters didn’t play a factor at all into her fitting right in on Elon’s attack.
“To come in and be that confident and play all the way around, pass really well, swing really well, I really respect her as a player,” Gravley said. I see nothing but good things from her.”