92° San Marcos
The Student News Site of Texas State University

The University Star

The Student News Site of Texas State University

The University Star

The Student News Site of Texas State University

The University Star

“She plays with some dawg in her”: Volleyball freshman adds impact on squad

Mandalyn Lewallen
Texas State redshirt freshman outside hitter Samantha Wunsch (8) during the game against Coastal Carolina, Friday, Nov. 10, 2023, at Strahan Arena.

Redshirt freshman outside hitter Samantha Wunsch has become a well-known member of the Texas State volleyball team this season.

With no prior experience as a collegiate athlete, Wunsch has become one of the top hitters and a defensive presence for the Bobcats, ranking second in kills and blocks.

In her first-ever collegiate game, an exhibition matchup against UTSA on Aug. 19, Wunsch recorded 21 kills and six digs. Every game since then, Wunsch has been on the top of the stat sheet in kills and blocks. Wunsch finished the 2023 regular season with 298 kills, 99 blocks and 63 digs. She was also named to the All-Sun Belt First Team and the Sun Belt Tournament All-Tournament Team.

However, getting to where she is now came with many sacrifices. Wunsch was given a redshirt for the 2022 season, preventing her from seeing any time on the court. Despite this being incredibly hard on her, Wunsch said she did not take this time for granted but instead used it as a learning experience.

“I wanted to play so badly… Having to sit out, knowing I will never touch the court all year was really difficult for me, but it was also a learning experience,” Wunsch said. “I’ve never been in that role before, so learning how to be a teammate in that aspect and watching the seniors last year, learning how they navigated through college ball.”

Texas State Head Coach Sean Huiet said he knew Wunsch would make an exceptional addition to the team after seeing her height and competitiveness as a dual sport athlete at Vandegrift High School in Austin. However, many players elected to take the COVID year and return for an extra season, creating a deep roster with several experienced players.

“It’s not that she wasn’t good enough or that she couldn’t play at that level right away,” Huiet said. “We had Janell Fitzgerald, who was ahead of her, offensive player of the year two years in a row. If she [Samantha] wasn’t going to play a significant amount, it’s not worth it. As hard as it is in the moment, you learn and grow so much through it; now you see her game, and you’ll see her flourish over the next four years.”

Throughout the process of developing mentally and physically, Wunsch has built up her confidence. Senior setter Ryann Torres has seen Wunsch grow immensely from her freshman year to where she is today and said her mentality has become more fierce.

“She found her dawg, and she plays with some dawg in her,” Torres said. “Her confidence just built throughout this year, and I think we feed off each other very well.”

With Wunsch’s size, skillset and confidence, she has a tremendous impact on the court for the Bobcats. Traditionally, middles are responsible for blocks at the net in volleyball, but Wunsch, as a right-side hitter, has become Texas State’s best blocker.

“Other teams really pay attention to her on the [scouting] sheet. They try to prepare for her, but she does her job,” Torres said.

Wunsch was everything but shy when talking about her teammates and the success she wants them to achieve. Even while being so young, Wunsch is viewed as a leader by her teammates, something she values highly. When asked what she expects for future seasons, Wunsch said one word: “rings.”

Wunsch said Huiet and his coaching staff made the correct decision in redshirting her as it helped her become the player she is today and the player she will be for future seasons.

Huiet said he and many others are placing lofty expectations onto Wunsch’s shoulders for the remainder of her time as a Bobcat.

“She wants to lead this team to a championship,” Huiet said. “She has the potential to be one of the best [players] to come through Texas State.”

Donate to The University Star

Your donation will support the student journalists of Texas State University. Your contribution will allow us to purchase equipment and cover our annual website hosting costs.

More to Discover
Donate to The University Star