By Rob Rose
For three members of the women’s volleyball team, nothing is truer than the idea that the friends one makes in college are one’s friends for life.
Brynn Sherbert, Rachelle Runyon and AudreyRose Hutchinson, or “The California Girls,” have formed a bond beyond the roster.
While they went to different high schools and grew up in different towns in the Golden State, their relationship began before they became Broncs. Runyon, a sophomore from Aliso Viejo, California, is credited with helping bring Hutchinson and Sherbert here.
Hutchinson had offers from other schools but attributes her relationship with Runyon as a major factor in her decision to come to Rider.
“She was kind enough to FaceTime me for an hour and a half and told me all about [Rider] and how she gave it a chance,” she said. “It made me have a bigger perspective on my decision. We visited at the same time, and she had a really big impact.”
Coming in together as freshmen, Hutchinson and Sherbert were paired as roommates.
“We’re really close. We’re roommates so we got to bond together while we’ve been here. We’ve really had fun,” said Sherbert, while Hutchinson added that Sherbert is one of her best friends.
However, things have not always been perfect between the two rookies. In the final game of her high school volleyball career, Sherbert’s team at Great Oak High School lost to Hutchinson’s Eastlake High School team.
For Runyon, her new teammates have been a welcomed sight this season.
“They’re my California Girls; we have an instinctive bond. We say the same things and have the same jokes,” Runyon said.
Runyon added, “It’s nice having someone in the same spot as you, coming across the country. We have each other after the game, and that brought us closer. With your family so far, this is who your family is here.”
Sherbert and Runyon both chose to begin their athletic careers after watching the U.S. Women’s National Volleyball Team. For Sherbert, the intensity and communication needed to play beach volleyball — or “beach,” as she calls it — interested her.
In Runyon’s case, she believes the skills she gained while playing “beach” helped her become the player she is. Runyon occupies the Libero position for the Broncs, which makes her a defensive specialist.
Runyon described beach volleyball as “a lot of digging and reading,” which are crucial skills in volleyball.
“It helped me come to a more competitive level because I was able to read and pick up on some balls I maybe wouldn’t have [otherwise],” she said.
All three women said the relationships with their teammates and other Rider athletes made the move easier. They also said that getting out of their comfort zones and living on their own was important.
The personal goal for all three women is to inject the team with energy every time they touch the floor. Becoming a leader on the team is important for Runyon, who said she will be a captain next year.
The goal for The California Girls is to win the conference title this season.
Runyon declared, “We’re going to win the MAAC Championship. I think we have the group this year to win.”
The Broncs split their opening matches in MAAC play over the weekend.
Their first conference win came against Canisius College, sweeping them, 3-0. Sherbert had a team-high 10 digs in the game.
First place Niagara handed the Broncs their first home loss this season, 3-1. Runyon had a career-high 20 digs in the loss to Niagara.
Senior Veronica Koval was named the MAAC Player of the Week on Sept. 12. Picking up her first career weekly accolade, as the first Bronc to win the award this season.
The Broncs are currently tied for third place in the conference. They resume play on Sept. 23 and 24 with a road trip to Connecticut to face Fairfield and Quinnipiac.