Photo by Richard Howard
If there’s a theme in the athletic career of Yasmine Reece ’19, it’s probably jumping. She played basketball and volleyball for years, and she even tried the high jump. But although she started playing volleyball in the fifth grade, it wasn’t love at first spike. “At that time in my life, I was more serious about basketball,” Reece says. “Volleyball was just something I did to spend time with my friends.” In the end, though, volleyball won out. “By the eighth grade, I would practice by myself,” she says, “and I taught myself the overhand serve just because I liked flying.”
Up in the Air
As a 6-foot middle hitter for the Blue, Reece gets to fly a lot. Jumping up and hitting the ball—often to just the right spot—is one of Reece’s strong suits. “I think that has always pretty much come easy to me just because of how tall I am, and I can jump pretty high,” she says. When she was younger, however, she hadn’t quite mastered some of the fundamentals of the sport. “I didn’t know how to take a proper approach, so most of the time I just jumped in the air and hit the ball really awkwardly, but it worked,” she says. Since then, her technique has improved, and she recorded more than 300 kills in each of her first two seasons with the Blue, and 270 kills last fall.
Kill, Kill, Kill
No one was hurt by all those kills—although perhaps her opponents wouldn’t agree. “A kill is when you hit on the ball, and nobody can pick it up, nobody can pass it, or do anything with it,” Reece says. Of course, a kill isn’t the only unusual term for the sport. “Another one that confuses people is tool,” she says. That is when a player hits the ball into the blocker’s hands, and it goes out of bounds, earning a point. Reece laughs as she explains another good one: pancake. “That’s when you’re running to pass the ball, and you’re not going to make it, so you dive and you pass the ball with just your hand flat on the ground,” she says. “It’s like a last resort thing.”
Recording kills isn’t all Reece does for the team, although she is prolific at it. After her 270 kills this fall (bringing her just seven shy of 1,000 for her Wellesley career), she also notched 102 blocks and 100 digs. The totality of her play earned her an All-America honorable mention from the American Volleyball Coaches Association (AVCA). She was also named to the AVCA New England All-Region team and the New England Women’s and Men’s Athletic Conference (NEWMAC) All-Conference first team.
The team as a whole had a banner season, finishing with a record of 22–7. After a rough start with two straight losses, the team evened out and at one point had a 12-game winning streak. “Once we were at seven [in the winning streak], we realized, ‘Oh, we’re going to be the real deal this season,’” Reece says. They made it to the NEWMAC title game, and earned a trip to the NCAA tournament. Losing in the first round at the NCAA tournament only strengthened their resolve to come back even better next season, Reece says. “We’re already trying to have the mindset that we’re going to go to the NCAA tournament again, and we’re going to get further than the first round,” she says.