As many UT sports fans know, Melissa Vanderhall is an award-winning volleyball star, but there’s much more to the story than meets the eye. Prior to her UT career, Vanderhall attended Uniondale High School in New York, where she reached All-County status in three sports: volleyball, softball and basketball.
She said that while volleyball has always been her number one sport, she also loved basketball. Despite standing just 5’7”, Vanderhall starred as a center in high school.
“But in college a 5’7” center wouldn’t work,” Vanderhall said.
Vanderhall then moved to Florida to attend UT, citing the warm weather as the main reason. It was at UT where she would enjoy some of her greatest success.
After redshirting in 2006, Vanderhall made her UT debut in 2007. She appeared in 32 of the team’s 34 matches, starting 18 times.
Vanderhall showed potential early, recording at least one kill in all 32 appearances that season as well as a dig in 27 matches. Her performance was good enough to earn All-SSC freshman honors.
Vanderhall grew by leaps and bounds in 2008. She recorded at least three kills in each match. She reached double-digits 21 times and had at least 17 kills seven times. Defensively, she had 10 or more digs four times last season. Following the season, she was named both SSC and South Region Player of the Year.
“I was actually really, really surprised,” Vanderhall said of the Player of the Year honors, adding that it was especially surprising since it was her first season as a full-time starter.
In addition to her success on the court, Vanderhall is a perennial honor student, making SSC Commissioner’s Honor Roll every year so far at UT. She also received the Division II ADA Academic Achievement Award in 2007.
Vanderhall’s biggest accomplishment, however, is her involvement in various charitable causes. Her volunteer work includes the Family & Children’s Association, the Ronald McDonald House, and the Special Olympics.
As an Allied Health major, she plans to continue working with children as a pediatric physical therapist.
Vanderhall has not ruled out playing volleyball after college, however.
“If I have the opportunity, why not [go to Europe]?” Vanderhall said.
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I am a former classmate of Melissa’s from Uniondale High School, and I’m glad to see she is doing well and representing Uniondale’s greatness! God bless Melissa and continue to excel!