The women’s volleyball team has an enviable 26-2 record overall this season as it seeks a second straight New England Women’s and Men’s Athletic Conference (NEWMAC) regular-season title and a chance to host the playoff tournament. A big reason for its dominance is star outside-hitter, Megan E. Gebhard ’17. Gebhard, who made the NEWMAC all-conference first team last year, leads the team in kills, averaging above 4 per set. The Tech’s player of the month for October told us about team spirit, this year’s goals, and beach volleyball at Google.
The Tech: Thanks for talking to us. The women’s volleyball team is 26-2 on the season — what makes this team so good?
Megan Gebhard: I think everyone is determined and motivated. We went to regionals last year and the team loved the experience. We are all committed to volleyball and enjoy playing together a lot. We have a great team culture and our coaches are excellent. Head coach Paul Dill pushes us to be the best players and the best team we can be.
TT: You came very close to winning the NEWMAC tournament last year — how confident are you of winning the championship this year ? Which team do you consider the biggest obstacle?
MG: We have two more games of regular season to go against Emerson and Coast Guard. Our goal is to win those two games, which will give us the regular season title and the rights to host the NEWMAC tournament. I think we can definitely win the NEWMAC tournament this year.
NEWMAC is one of the toughest conferences in New England. Babson and Springfield are always very competitive.
TT: What is the experience like competing in the playoffs, playing against teams you have played previously during the regular season?
MG: I think the mentality is slightly different. There is a lot more on the line. It does not matter what happened in the regular season contest between the two teams.
Home field advantage makes a huge difference. Everyone on the team is looking forward to the opportunity of hosting the regionals. We have a very loyal fan base, which includes the parents who are incredibly supportive.
TT: How long have you been playing competitive volleyball?
MG: I started playing volleyball when I was in the seventh grade. I played in middle school and then joined a club team.
TT: Was volleyball part of the reason you chose to come to MIT?
MG: Yes, I was not going to suffer academically to pursue volleyball. If I did not get into MIT, my second choice would have been Michigan, and I would have probably joined a club team. I feel incredibly lucky that I get to study computer science at MIT while playing the sport I love.
TT: Off the court, you are a 6-3 major and have interned at Google. What was that experience like?
MG: It was a great experience. They are working on a number of really challenging problems.
One thing I especially appreciated was that they had beach-volleyball courts. So I would play every day for two hours during lunch and then work late.
TT: What part of Course 6 excites you the most?
MG: This is a tough one to answer, as I have loved every class I have taken and enjoyed working with every team that I have worked with thus far. If I had to pick, I would say mobile technology.
As far as working professionally is concerned, I want to work for a company whose product I use and like. I also place a lot of importance in gelling with the members of the team I work with.
TT: What is your preferred social media app?
MG: Instagram. Our volleyball team has an Instagram account and I definitely recommend everyone check it out.
TT: You are involved with the Undergraduate Student Advisory Group in EECS (USAGE) and the Society for Women Engineers (SWE). What prompts you to be part of those organizations?
MG: I joined SWE in my freshman year and made a lot of amazing friends. We organize programs for corporate and professional development. But, I feel I love working with the folks at SWE, and that’s what is most appealing to me.
I like USAGE as it gives me an opportunity to interact with the highly accomplished faculty members. They are really passionate about computer science and work very hard to ensure the MIT Course 6 curriculum stays up-to-date, keeping pace with an ever-changing industry.
TT: Fun question! Halloween is coming up — what are you planning to be?
MG: A friend of mine and I saw something on Pinterest which was like a Rubik’s cube. It seemed like a really intense project, and I am not sure if I will have the time to make the costume, but I will give it a shot.
TT: Thanks for taking the time to talk to us, and all the best for the rest of the season.
This transcript was lightly edited for clarity and length.