As Elon volleyball kicks off their 2023-24 season, one player on the team is preparing to play against a family member. Elon junior Sydney Love, an outside hitter and captain for the volleyball team, played against her sister in Fall 2022 and will rematch her this semester.
Ryann Love, a sophomore at William & Mary, grew up playing volleyball with Sydney on the same side of the net. Though Elon’s first scheduled game against William & Mary is Oct. 7, Sydney and Ryann said they are eager to get back on the court.
During the Fall 2022 season, Elon and William & Mary faced each other during a weekend matchup, where Elon won the first match 3-0, and William & Mary won the second match 3-2. The two sisters both went home with a win that weekend.
“Playing against her at the collegiate level was super exciting, and I know we both love it,” Sydney said. "We always have a huge fan section when we play each other."
Same side of the net
Sydney and Ryann are from Chesapeake, Virginia, and both began playing volleyball at a young age. Sydney, 2 years older, said watching her sister grow into the player she is today has been inspiring. Ryann said Sydney was the one that got her into the sport initially, and playing with her only strengthened her love for the sport.
Both sisters said they began to take volleyball more seriously in high school as they joined South East Region Volleyball. After a few years on SERV, they transitioned to a new club called Beach Elite and said that was when they knew they wanted to take the next step and play at the collegiate level.
"We skyrocketed from there," Sydney said. "We got so much better at playing with other girls that also wanted to play at the collegiate level."
When the Love sisters began the recruiting process, Sydney said she wanted a school that was far from home with high academics, small class sizes and a welcoming community. With those in mind, she said Elon was the perfect fit. In contrast, Ryann said she knew she wanted to go to a college closer to home.
Yet, both Elon and William & Mary belong to the Coastal Athletic Association.
"Playing with her is exciting, but also playing against her is even better," Sydney said.
The Love sisters come from a big family, and Sydney said it is always fun to have her family all in the same place, watching them play.
"They were watching us play, but they were watching us play against each other, which was huge for them, too," Sydney said. "Of course, they can't pick sides of who they want to win, but that weekend it was good because we both took home a win."
Elon volleyball head coach Mary Tendler also said she enjoys watching the sisters’ competitive dynamic.
“It brought an extra element to the weekend, which was pretty cool," Tendler said. “She embraced the whole experience.”
Despite the competitive nature of their relationship, both sisters said they are still supportive of one another.
"She still wants what is best for me even though we are in the same conference competing against each other," Ryann said. "She's always supportive."
Elon captains Love and Jordan Gower said the players are eager to showcase their abilities and compete against tough opponents like William & Mary this year.
According to Tendler, the team has a diverse roster of experienced players and promising newcomers, creating a dynamic blend of talent on the court as they continue through and look toward the rest of the season.