For many athletes the transition from high school sports to the collegiate level of play is a difficult one, especially at a level as such as the SEC. However, Lady Vol freshman outside hitter Ashlyn Sunseri seems to have adjusted well to the change.
After playing high school volleyball for four years in Alabama at Northside H.S., where she was a team captain for two years and made the 6A All-State second team her senior year, Sunseri has enjoyed the transition of becoming a Lady Vol.
"The transition has been really good it's a lot faster pace so just getting the hang of it is all I'm focusing on right now," Sunseri said. "We are going through every workout like it's our hardest and every practice were giving our all. It is very important for me to be a Lady Vol because there is so much tradition here and I just love how everyone is together."
While she didn't play any minutes over the past weekend in the 2012 Comcast Lady Vol Classic, which Tennessee (2-1) finished second overall in a pool of four teams, she will get her opportunities on the court at points in the season and is an asset for the team.
"She brings that go hard attitude to the court and gets after every ball no matter what," Megan Hatcher, freshman teammate and friend, said. "She is a great pin hitter and will get her kills but she is a great leader and will bring us together out there."
Since Sunseri arrived on campus other teammates have helped her in honing in her game on the court and taken her under their wing as well.
"My big sister has been Ellen Mullins but all the girls have helped me so much," she said. "Leslie (Cikra) has also taken me under and just showed me all the ropes."
Through the stretch of the season this Pittsburgh, Pa. native will look to improve her hitting and passing and has a big personal goal set for herself.
"My personal goal is to master the Tennessee way of volleyball," Sunseri said. "Basically high tempo, passing of the hips, talking loud, and just knowing where everything is on the court."
Off the court and outside of practice there is another side to her though as well, as she is described as having a great spirit and enjoys watching sports with her brothers and being with friends and family in her spare time. Not to mention, she is the daughter of Sal Sunseri who is in his first year of tenure as the Tennessee Vols defensive coordinator after coaching linebackers at Alabama the previous three years.
"It's definitely a dream come true I've always wanted to go to college close to my family," Sunseri said. "So having him so close and being in the same program as myself is a real honor."
She isn't the only collegiate student-athlete in her family either, as her two older brothers Vinnie and Tino play college football for Alabama and Pittsburgh respectively. It just so happens that her brother will be playing for the Crimson Tide when they travel to Knoxville this year on the third Saturday in October. She also is a fan of many former players that played at Alabama.
"I am a big Mark Ingram, Julio Jones, and Greg McElroy fan," she said. "Right now I support Pittsburgh, Alabama, and Tennessee. I'm going to be cheering for my brother when they play here, but whoever wins it's going to be a great game,"
Coming from an Italian family heritage it is just a coincidence that her favorite type of food is Italian.
"My favorite food is Italian and I could eat pasta every single night," she said.
While her father is in final preparations for the Vols football team season opener on Friday night his daughter is focused intently on the Lady Vols weekend tournament in Wichita, Kan. in which they will play three games in the Shocker Volleyball Classic hosted at Wichita State College.
"Right now we put every game first," she said. "We focus on volleyball and then after the game if we have time to watch we'll watch."
The Lady Vols will take on 24th ranked Colorado State, BYU, and Wichita State this weekend, as they look to build on their winning record.