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First-year Simone Asque made her first collegiate start at the Marriott Jefferson Cup, due to an injury to fifth-year Beth Shelton. Asque made a big impact in her role and continued playing last weekend at Northwestern’s Wildcat Classic. The Chicago native had a large support network show up at the matches to cheer her on and is now looking to carry her play into Atlantic Coast Conference action.

Virginia opened it’s conference schedule at Virginia Tech yesterday and hosts Georgia Tech (Fri.) and Clemson (Sat.) this weekend. Both matches are scheduled to begin at 7 p.m. in Memorial Gymnasium.

Question: With Beth’s injury, you’ve had an opportunity to step up and contribute on the court. How does it feel to be playing at this level?
: At first I was a little worried that I wouldn’t be able to keep up or I wouldn’t be able to give a consistently positive contribution to the team. Also, to fill in for someone who is a fifth-year, who has way more experience than I do, and someone who over the course of this season, I’ve looked up to and followed the leadership of… it was at first a little scary, I guess you could say.

But, I knew that all of the training that my coaches have given me would allow me to compete at that level. So just trusting that I have improved since high school, and that my coaches think that I can do it, gave me the confidence to go out and play. Once I got through the first few points, the butterflies went away and my whole focus was on the game and playing well for my team.

Also, my teammates on and off the court are just really awesome people in that we support each other whether we are playing or not, and we help each other out. So all of that together really helped me to step up to the challenge.

Question: You’re originally from Chicago and had a good fan base at Northwestern this past weekend, with the crowd really getting into the matches for you. What was it like to play in front of a hometown crowd?

Asque: It was so cool. My entire high school girls volleyball team came, some of our boys volleyball team and a few other die-hard volleyball fans from my high school came to support me. Even my principal came! It was really cool because I had no idea that many people were coming. I thought maybe 10, but there was a good chunk of the crowd that were students of Whitney M. Young Magnet High School. If they didn’t out number the home crowd, they were definitely louder than them!

Question: What were you able to do in your down time?
Asque: Well, where we were staying was really far from my house and not very close to downtown Chicago. In fact, the area we stayed and played in, I had never been to before! But my family and close friends were able to come and see me play and on some nights, come to our team dinners. So it was nice to see the people that I care about from home.

Question: This upcoming week is busy for the team, with three ACC contests. Are you excited for conference play?
Asque: I am very excited about conference play because all of the upper classman say it is a lot of fun playing against the strong competition and the great crowd atmosphere that comes with each match.

Question: What conference opponent are you most excited about facing?
Asque: I don’t really know what any of the teams are like, so I don’t have any particular teams that I’m specifically excited to compete against. But my Aunt lives in Atlanta, so she will be coming to the Georgia Tech match, so for now, I’m excited to play them the most.

Question: You’re about a month into the season and you are a first-year at Virginia, how are classes going? Do you like Charlottesville and/or UVa?
Asque: Classes are going very well. Even though there is a big difference between high school classes and college classes, I expected there to be one. I love Charlottesville and everything about UVa. Even though I sometimes miss the skyscrapers and hustle of Chicago, I’ve gotten used to, and have come to love, the peaceful calm of Grounds.

So far all of my classes have been really cool, because even though I thought I was taking several different classes, they are all connected in one way or another. So that overused phrase from high school of “Why am I learning this, I’m never going to need to know this stuff!” doesn’t apply in my classes. All of it is relevant and can be used in all of my classes.

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