The season started with so much promise. Brandywine Heights grad Erin Nothstein was just getting her senior season started on the Wilkes University women’s volleyball team when it happened.
In the second match of the season, Nothstein set a school record for consecutive serves. She served 25 straight, including a full game shutout. But in the very next set, Nothstein landed awkwardly and tore her ACL, ending her season.
It was a tough was to end her season, especially after completing such a successful junior year in 2012. She had a team high 490 digs (she had 526 digs in 2011, still a team record) and earned All-Freedom Conference Honorable Mention honors.
She also has the team record of digs in a match, when she had 52 at Manhattanville in 2011.
“I’m very happy with the way that my volleyball career has gone thus far at Wilkes,” said Nothstein. “I’ve had the good fortune to play with some very talented girls who have become some of my best friends. My college career has also been personally rewarding.”
In her first three years, she set school records for the number of digs in both a match and a season. In 2011, she finished the season with an average of 5.98 digs per set which ranked her 17th in the country in Division III.
Nothstein started playing volleyball when she was in sixth grade. She knew nothing about the sport at the time, but when she started playing in gym class, the coach saw she had some potential in the game. He encouraged her to go out for the middle school team, so she thought she’d give it a try.
“When I told my parents that I wanted to play volleyball, they thought I was crazy,” said Nothstein. “I was always small for my age, but they encouraged me to play and have been the best supporters ever since.”
She’s been playing for 11 years now, including time on the Brandywine Heights middle and high school teams, as well as playing club volleyball for TOPs, and one season playing for X-Court, a club team from Reading.
It was her time on the high school team that she really developed her talent. She gives a lot of credit to her high school coach, Mike Pienta.
“He taught me everything I know about the sport,” said Nothstein. “I can still hear his voice in the back of my head telling me to “get low”. His focus was on building a strong defense and minimizing mental and unforced errors.”
She also recognized the talent she played with in high school, and remembers how much the team played as a team.
“Looking back, I remember how well we worked together as a team,” she said. “We had great team chemistry. Winning takes more than talent. Over the years we successfully competed against teams that were much more athletic than we were because we were all very disciplined and worked hard to improve ourselves day after day. This led to success winning counties, districts and competing in the state championships on multiple occasions.
“I’m grateful to have such great experiences with the Brandywine girls’ volleyball program. All of the success I’ve had in college is owed to the exceptional coaching I received in high school. Coach Pienta ran a tough program and continually encouraged us to perform to the best of our ability.
“Coach stressed doing the simple things right. As an example, one of his drills was to make ten consecutive serves before leaving. This sounds simple, but you’d be surprised how many girls miss serves even at the collegiate level. I don’t know that I would have set the Wilkes record for most consecutive serves without coach’s focus on the mental aspect of the game.”
She took up in college where she left off in high school. She played in all 30 Wilkes University matches in her freshman season, and was second on the team in digs with 420.
By her sophomore season she developed into one of the best players on the team, setting a school record with 526 digs on the season.
“Erin is a top quality player with an uncanny ability to be able to read the opponents offensive attacks,” said Wilkes head coach Joe Czopek. “She’s a team player and has become a leader by example on the court for Wilkes volleyball. She is one of the foundations of the success of the Wilkes volleyball program.”
Erin is in the Doctor of Pharmacy program at Wilkes - a six year program. After she graduates, she hopes to become a pharmacist, working in a retail pharmacy.
Since she is in a six-year program, she will be eligible to play next season due to a medical waiver. She will be working hard to get back on the court next season.