SARAH SPONCIL OUTSIDE HITTER SOCIOLOGY MAJOR 2014: WCC All-Freshman team; AVCA Pacific South Region Freshman of the Year; started every match 2015: Led LMU to the Sweet Sixteen of the NCAA women’s volleyball tournament; AVCA All-Region and honorable mention All-America; WCC First Team; led the team in kills and service aces 2016: Represented the United States with teammate Torrey Van Winden, placing fourth in the 2016 FIVB Under 21 Beach Volleyball World Championships; included on ESPNW’s 2016 Top 12 Players to Watch list When you’re about to hit the kill shot, are you making decisions or acting on instinct? You’re making some decisions. You’re thinking, “Where can I hit it that they are not?” A lot of times, blockers are stacked on me, so I think about hitting off the edge of their block. I might cut it at an angle and hit it sharply. But I’m looking for an open seam. Do you feel pressure when you know the team is counting on you to get a kill? There’s always pressure, but knowing how to deal with it is important. You remind yourself, “I’ve been doing this all my life, and I can do it now.” You have to have confidence in yourself — it can’t come from anywhere else. I trust all of my teammates, too. So I know that if I make a big rip at a shot and it gets blocked, they’re going to cover me. Players in other sports sometimes describe a feeling of being in a zone, as if the game slows down. Do you ever sense that? When receiving serve, I feel like that. If you’re focused, you get in a zone that you can’t explain. When the ball is coming at you, even though it’s coming fast and it’s a split second from your arm, you know you’ve got it. Sarah Noreiga, Sarah McFarland, Tracy Holman, Heather Hughes, Emily Day, Betsi Metter — do those names mean anything to you? Yes, they’re the greats who have come out of LMU women’s volleyball. Trying constantly to be like them and taking the game a step further is a motivation for me. How did it feel to wear the U.S. jersey at the 2016 FIVB U21 championships in beach volleyball in Switzerland this past summer? Representing my country is something I’ve always dreamed of. Wearing that jersey doesn’t really hit you until you put it on. It was amazing. If I get the opportunity again, I’ll jump at it.