Paige Neuenfeldt Named ACC Freshman of the Year

Seaholm graduate Paige Neuenfeldt spikes the ball in a game against Clemson. Neuenfeldt is the middle blocker for the North Carolina volleyball team.  PHOTO / JEFF CAMARATI, UNC ATHLETICS
Seaholm graduate Paige Neuenfeldt spikes the ball in a game against Clemson. Neuenfeldt is the middle blocker for the University of North Carolina’s volleyball team. PHOTO / JEFF CAMARATI, UNC ATHLETICS

When Paige Neuenfeldt committed to University of North Carolina for volleyball at the beginning of junior year, she hoped to have a bright future. However, she didn’t know it would include being named Freshman of the Year for the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC).
“I didn’t know if I would be getting play time at the beginning or anything,” Paige Neuenfeldt, a middle blocker, said. “So to just come out of the season with an ACC Freshman of the Year award is amazing. It’s so humbling.” Paige Neuenfeldt was a leader in attacks, coming in fourth for her team overall.
“She’s done so much better than we ever expected her to,”sister and Seaholm varsity volleyball player Erin Neuenfeldt said. “We were hoping she’d start, and then she blew everybody away. That Freshman of the Year award is just crazy.”
After earning ACC Freshman of the Week six times this season, it was evident that Paige Neuenfeldt had a good shot at getting the award.
“It goes to the person who has the best performance that weekend,” Paige Neuenfeldt said.“Based on that, I had an idea I might be getting Freshman of the Year, so it wasn’t a complete surprise but it was still pretty cool. Consistent high play was definitely a factor that went into it.”
With a good year so far on and off the court, it seems UNC is the right fit for her.
“UNC was definitely the right choice for her. She’s had a great year and it’s just going to get better,” senior Claire Meads, Neuenfeldt’s former teammate said.
“I couldn’t be happier with my choice,” Paige Neuenfeldt said. “I love my team, I love my coaches, I love the volleyball program and the school in itself is amazing.”
The adjustment from high school to college isn’t always easy, but Seaholm helped set her up for success for both academic and athletic life.
“I’m prepared but it’s still challenging,” Neuenfeldt said. “Life as a student athlete is never easy. Things haven’t changed, that was kind of my life in high school anyway. I had an easy transition definitely. There was really great senior leadership, on the court especially.”
On the court, her best mental traits are energy, work ethic, and passion.
“She’s really passionate about the game, she knows what she wants to do and how to execute it,” Meads said.
With these kinds of traits, it’s no wonder that she’s a role model to her younger sister Erin and other volleyball players.
“I’ve always looked up to her.” Erin Neuenfeldt said.“She’s taught me so much and I love playing with her. It’s great having all high school to look up to her. When we played high school together, we’d all be on the court and she’d tell me ‘Come on Erin you can do better than that.’ She pushed me more than anybody.”
Paige’s athleticism, height, and speed are the strongest parts of her game and they give her a clear edge on competition.
“My attacking is my strongest suit,” Paige Neuenfeldt said. “I definitely use my speed to my advantage.”
“She’s tall, so she’s got a lot of blocking skills and she can hit it really hard,” Meads said.
Some of her favorite athletic memories include beating both Florida State and Miami at home in one weekend. This moved the team from tied for 3rd to tied for 1st. Her best game was the last game verses Iowa State, in which she had a career high 17 kills and 4 blocks.
“I have to give a big thanks to my teammates too for everything,” Paige Neuenfeldt said.“We all fit in very well. It’s everything you want your team to be.”
After the end of her first college semester, it looks like this is just the beginning for Neuenfeldt.
“I think she has a really bright future just because she’s so good at such a young age,” Meads said. “She’s got a lot of potential and she can fulfill it.”

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