Volleyball Spotlight-Hannah Miranda
For Belmont freshman setter Hannah Miranda, volleyball is and always has been a major part of her life. Her parents both coach volleyball and own a club team. Her three older sisters all played volleyball in college. For Miranda, volleyball is in her blood. It is not surprising, then, that the freshman from Covington, La., chose Belmont because of the school's proud volleyball program.
"I chose Belmont for their volleyball, first off," she said. "That was what drew me here to look into it. I probably wouldn't have considered Belmont if it weren't for volleyball, because the normal assumption is that it's just for music kids. My sister's best friend goes here, so I knew Belmont before, but I never knew it from a volleyball aspect. When I came on my visit, there was something different about it than all of the other volleyball visits I had been on. Coach Webb and the program, it definitely has pride in it."
Miranda came to Belmont after winning two state championships for Northlake Christian high school, where her father was her head coach. While it wasn't always easy to play for her dad, the father-daughter/player-coach relationship is a part of Miranda's favorite volleyball memory.
"We're one big volleyball family, and when we get together, there's usually volleyball involved, so I don't get away from it," she said. "I love it, though, so it's okay. Winning state this past year, with my dad, is probably my best volleyball moment. My dad was my coach, and he had coached all four daughters, so it was kind of the ending to a very long chapter of life. He's been coaching for a long time, and the fact that we won state and were able to do that together was probably the most memorable thing for me. It was hard to play for my dad at first, when I was younger, because I didn't understand the separation between you're-my-coach and you're-my-dad. After a while, it became natural."
All of the coaching she received from her family and the work that she put in has paid off. Miranda is one of the top setters in the Atlantic Sun Conference, ranking second in the league in assists per set and topping that category in conference matches. She ranks inside the top 50 nationally in assists per set, checking in at number 44. Having such success as a freshman is exciting, but the road hasn't been an easy one for Miranda this season.
"It's been an honor (to start as a freshman)," she said. "I feel like I've worked really hard, but it's definitely been tough. It's been tougher mentally than anything else. First fighting for that position and then trying to maintain it. Stepping in as a freshman at setter, it's kind of like you're the quarterback. That's definitely a hard position when you still don't feel like you have the right. It's been a challenge, but I think I know my role, and I'm not necessarily the leader of the team, but I have a huge job. I touch pretty much every ball during the game, and Coach says that I bring a lot of calm to the team. My role right now is stability, if I can bring that."
The calm she brings to the court is a direct reflection of her personality. Laid back and not easily rattled, her gentle demeanor sometimes hides the goofy and intensely competitive part of her personality.
"I'm definitely very motivated," Miranda said. "That's probably what has made me have the success I have had and achieve the things I've achieved. I work really hard. I'm not the smartest person, but I work my butt off to make the grades I do. In volleyball, too, I'm not the tallest or strongest, but I'm very motivated and I don't give up. I hate losing. I can't explain it, but I'm extremely competitive, even in drills in class, I don't like losing."
Another factor in Miranda's success is a defining characteristic: she is motivated to be the best. Resilient and never willing to give up easily, Miranda has battled through transitioning from high school to college as both a student and an athlete.
"Right now, I'm not doing very well in my classes, and I haven't overcome it yet," she said. "It's definitely something you have to learn (to balance school and sports), and as athletes it's kind of forced on you, especially time management. You don't get a lot of free time and if you're not practicing, you have to be studying. College is a whole different level because you don't have your set schedule that you did at home. The most important thing for me is adjusting and making a new schedule for myself, which is something you have to do. It's not always the greatest because you see people out having fun, and you're studying. It's a lot of sacrifices, but it's always worth it."
Additionally, she has learned to overcome inconsistent performances and has found her groove at the right time in the season, helping Belmont to an 8-3 conference record and the second-best hitting percentage in the league. Beyond her responsibility to the team as the setter, Miranda's desire to help them succeed is not only a factor of her own motivation to be the best, but also results from a deep love for her teammates.
"I really do love the team," she said. "I love every single girl on the team. I think the team has made it so much easier for all of us freshmen to transition into not just playing, but a new environment. Just being able to play and be on a team-- I can't explain it, but I'm just really proud, of not just myself, but of all of us. I think they're probably my favorite part of Belmont."
As she continues to succeed in the family business, it's not hard to imagine Miranda eventually passing on the family tradition and her passion for the game of volleyball.