The path to becoming a routine starter for volleyball has been anything but clear for Miranda Higginbotham. One of Seton Hall volleyball’s unsung heroes, the fiery competitor has seen her game blossom from being a walk-on in her freshman year to a crucial role as a starting libero and defensive specialist.
Not even expecting to play her freshman year as a recruited walk-on, Higginbotham earned playing time as a defensive specialist. She noted the challenges in adjusting to the team while not under scholarship. The Dallas, Texas native had to understand that she was apart of something bigger than herself, focusing on the team and not the reward in order for her to get through the tough times.
After playing as a defensive specialist in her first three years, Higginbotham has transitioned into wearing the signature pink libero jersey for the Pirates.
“It is honor to wear the jersey and also a bit weird since I haven’t worn a libero jersey since high school.” Higginbotham said. “There is a lot of attention and pressure but that is what I have been working towards these last three years. It is hard but very exciting, especially being a three-rotation player. I really enjoy it.”
Higginbotham also credits players who manned the position in the past, such as Sarah Kenneweg, who had over 1,000 digs in her career, and Tessa Fournier, who is third all-time in digs for the Pirates. The two helped mentor her as she re-adjusted to the position.
Higginbotham has seen a steady increase in the most important statistics at her position in each year that she has been a Pirate.
In her freshman year, she totaled 147 digs with an average of 2.09 digs per set. In her sophomore season, she had almost identical stats, but she saw her total of service aces grow to 11. As a junior, Higginbotham had her most productive season, as she appeared in 100 sets, compared to under 80 in the prior years.
She managed to get around two digs per set, and fell just shy of 200 digs on the season.
At this point in her career, the biggest aspect of her game that she works on is the mental side.
“In practice, I feel like the skill is there, but, volleyball is such a mental game, so I have to continue to work on that along with my confidence.” Higginbotham said. “Especially this year, but also in the years past, I have been working on my preparation before the games to get myself in the right mental state.”
Reflecting on the current season, Higginbotham believes that the team can get back to its winning ways by strengthening its mental game.
The team is yet to win in Big East play, and Higginbotham believes the team must clean up the small things and recognize the importance of every role, as her role on the team over four years has taught her that.
Regardless of how the season turns out for the Pirates, Higginbotham can look back on her career and be proud of the road to success that she has traveled.
“I honestly would not trade my walk-on experience for anything,” Higginbotham said. “Earning my scholarship in my junior year and being on the team makes it that much more rewarding – I’m really thankful for the process.”
Evando Thompson can be reached firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @Thompsev.