Senior libero Tessa Fournier has meant progress for Seton Hall University volleyball in her four years with the program.
Now in the team’s fifth season under head coach Allie Yaeger, the Pirates started off slowly improving over the first two years with a new coach at the helm, peaking with a marvelous season in 2014 that found themselves in the NCAA Tournament for the first time in school history. After losing so many vital pieces from that team in 2015, the Pirates have utilized their younger players to create a team that has exceeded pre-season expectations last season, as well as this season.
One of the players that has exemplified the word “progress” is Fournier. She was a walk-on during her freshman season in 2013, and proved herself to earn a scholarship in 2014, where during that year, as well as 2015, she earned the honor of being named the Big East Libero of the Year. She’s been a leader time and time again for the Pirates.
“As leader you have to be relaxed at times, and a little laid back and understanding at times,” Fournier said. “This year we have such a young team, but I also take that as we push everyone to be the best that they can be and play the best that you can be.”
Fournier came to Seton Hall with a lot to prove, and when reflecting on her past accomplishments and experiences, she has been able to take advantage of certain situations and opportunities to become the player and person she is today.
“I mean I’ve always loved volleyball and that’s what makes me want to play everyday,” Fournier said. “I love the game, I love playing, as well as the atmosphere, my team and coaches. Making it to the NCAA Tournament was such a big accomplishment because people thought we were underdogs, so we were so motivated to play well as a team.”
Yaeger can only add to the grit and work ethic that Fournier holds.
“She has grown up a ton throughout her time here,” Yaeger said. “She came in as a freshman playing in the back row just as a defensive specialist, making sure she wasn’t completely thrown in there but she was playing against All-Americans on the other side. Getting that experience only helped her for the years to come.”
Fournier has broken nearly untouched ground at Seton Hall, not only by winning the Big East Libero of the Year award in consecutive seasons, but also surpassing 2,000 digs with a total of 2,050 digs as of Oct. 29, putting her in second place in school history behind current assistant coach Allie Matters. She was also one of only 30 student-athletes nationwide to be named a candidate for the 2016 Senior CLASS Award. With Matters and Yaeger both also playing as a libero in college, she knows that her technical game and skill level have improved vastly, and that what they have to say goes a long way.
“It’s awesome having them both give their opinions and insight on the position,” Fournier said. “It’s great to stop in practice and talk technically on a certain point or play, and it was a big recruiting push for me.”
That relationship that Fournier and Yaeger hold has made the coaching job for Yaeger become also a sort of mentoring experience, as she points out key elements to her that can help her improve her game.
“It’s huge for her to know that when I get on her, she knows what I’m talking about and that she needs her to take me seriously,” Yaeger said. “At this point I don’t expect her to make any mistakes because she knows that I know how good she is. I think she’s one of the best liberos in the country.”
Fournier has continued to prove to herself and her team that she has been able to make a stand and contribute to the Pirate squad. The progress has translated to the entire team giving their hard work and success over her past four years.
“I love every team that I’ve played for, and I love being here everyday surrounded by great people,” Fournier said.
Matt Lamb can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @MattS_Lamb.