Academy of Notre Dame’s Ali Rae is Main Line Girls Athlete of the Week

Rae, a senior captain, has been Notre Dame’s setter for the entire season in which the Irish run a 5-1.She was Notre Dame’s first server in every match and the team’s season leader in assists and aces. In Notre Dame’s come-from-behind win over Germantown Academy in the PAISAA finals, Rae had 36 assists on 121 sets,  three aces and five digs. It was the third consecutive PAISAA championship for Notre Dame and Rae was the setter in every one of them. 

Q: You had quite a game in the PAISAA championship final against Germantown Academy. What is your most vivid memory of that experience – can you share it with us?
A: A moment that will stick with me happened during the timeout that was called during the fourth game when we were down 12-7. I remember looking around at all of the seniors in the huddle, and without saying anything, we just knew that this was the point when we had to turn the game around. That silent understanding brought us back on the court with so much energy that we couldn’t be stopped. We swung the momentum in our favor and won the fourth game and then went on to win the fifth. I think that turning point was what ultimately made the difference.
Q: Is there one play that stands out in your memory in the PAISAA final – and if so, can you tell us how the play developed and your role in it?
A: I specifically remember one point in the fourth game when one of GA’s best servers was back on the line. Ashley Haas (our libero) gave me a pretty much perfect pass off of the serve and then I set Shannon Quigley on the outside, who killed it and got us the point back. Just like that – simple and effective. Like I said, those last two games were all about the intensity, so plays like that helped to boost the whole team’s confidence.
Q: What do you think is the most important attribute for a setter for a team that runs a 5-1, such as Academy of Notre Dame? 
A: I think stamina is the most important quality for a setter running a 5-1. Being the only setter on the court not only takes a physical toll on you, but also a mental one. It was something that I knew I had to be prepared for come senior year and I finally felt like I was ready to take on that role.
Q: You’re the team leader in aces. What, to you, was the biggest key to your success in this area?
A: This season I switched to a jump float serve which was pretty risky considering I had used the same serve for the past three years, but once I got it down I immediately saw it pay off in games. It was so much more effective and consistent than my old serve.  
Q: What do you think is the strongest part of your game?
A: I would say my communication on the court is my best contribution to the team. There’s nothing I love more than getting everyone pumped up before games and staying in constant communication with my teammates. When everyone is talking I think it helps us to function better as a unit.
Q: What part of your game are you currently working on the most currently?
A: The aspect of my game that I focused on the most this season was cleaning up my setting technique and making sure to beat the ball to the spot.
Q: What sparked your initial interest in volleyball?
 A: My older cousins always played when I was little and because I looked up to them so much, I decided to try the sport.
Q: You wear No. 23 for Notre Dame – is there a reason you chose that number?
 A: Oct. 23 is my birthday.
Q: Tell us a little about your pre-game preparation on the day of a game.
A: I don’t have any ritual that I do religiously before a game, the most important thing for me is to get my mind focused throughout the day and to try to forget about any stress that’s going on in my life.
Q: What do you think you’d like to major in at college? Is there a career path that particularly appeals to you? What are your favorite colleges at the present time?
A: I’m actually planning on going in Undecided at the moment; I’d prefer to take some college courses before deciding on a major. I’m applying to a variety of schools, but I’ll let you know my favorite as soon as I get accepted.
Q: Do you participate in any other extracurricular activities at Academy of Notre Dame? What sparked your interest in these activities?
A: I’m in Mock Trial – I may want to be a lawyer when I’m older; Campus Ministry – service has always been really important to me; and Writing Center – I really like to write and in the Writing Center I get to help other people edit their papers and work on their writing
Ali Rae’s top picks
Book: We Were Liars, by E. Lockhart.
Author: Mitch Albom.
TV show: Scandal.
Movie: Good Will Hunting.
Pre-game pump-up song: My House – Flo Rida.
Person I most admire: “I really admire my parents because they have worked incredibly hard to ensure that I had a great education. Growing up, they taught me how to fully commit myself to everything that I do and how to enjoy life. I’m so lucky to have them as my role models and biggest fans.”
Place to visit: “I just got back from Jamaica and it was an awesome trip, so I’d have to go with that.”
(To be selected as Main Line Girls Athlete of the Week, a student-athlete must first be nominated by her coach.)
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