Barrington High grad is a key contributor at Yale

As a freshman, Maile Somera led Yale volleyball team with 22 service aces

By MIKE SCANDURA
Posted 11/24/20

There’s no truth to the rumor that Barrington’s Maile Somera, a sophomore at Yale, was born with a volleyball in her cradle.

But it’s close.

Her mother, Nancy, was a four-year …

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Barrington High grad is a key contributor at Yale

As a freshman, Maile Somera led Yale volleyball team with 22 service aces

Posted

There’s no truth to the rumor that Barrington’s Maile Somera, a sophomore at Yale, was born with a volleyball in her cradle.

But it’s close.

Her mother, Nancy, was a four-year starter at USC and is the head women’s coach at Johnson & Wales University. Her father, Ben, is the head women’s coach at Wesleyan University.

“I think growing up my parents always told me there wasn’t any pressure to play volleyball or feel the need to play,” said Maile.

“There never was any pressure from my parents to play. I fell in love with the sport growing up and stuck with it.”

At Barrington High School, Maile compiled a list of accolades that stretched from one end of the floor to the other:

• She was voted Rhode Island’s Gatorade Player of the Year three years in a row, the first volleyball player to receive this award three times.

• Maile earned Rhode Island Interscholastic League Volleyball Player of the Year honors and was part of PrepVolleyball’s Defensive Dandies (i.e. players on this list are all-around high school talents who project as back row specialists at the collegiate level).

• She was on the top 50 Watch List (which is compiled by the American Volleyball Coaches Association).

• In 2019, she was voted the state’s Schoolgirl Athlete of the Year by Words Unlimited (the state-wide organization of sports writers, sportscasters and sports publicists).

After her last match, Maile finished with 1,387 kills and 832 digs.

“What attracted me to Maile if you watch her walk you can tell she’s an athlete,” said Yale coach Erin Appleman. “She oozes athleticism in everything she does. I first noticed her athleticism when I saw her desire to win. She’s a good teammate and I’ve known her parents for a long time.

“I had Maile in camp for a couple of years. I didn’t know how bright and intelligent she was until I had her in camp. I realized Yale would be a good fit for her academically, athletically and socially.”

Coach Appleman has built one of the top women’s volleyball programs in the country.

Over the previous 17 years, she’s guided Yale to four consecutive Ivy League championships (10 overall) including a record-setting five straight titles and seven NCAA Tournament appearances.

She became the first coach in Ivy League history to win an NCAA Tournament match (twice) and in 2018 she was voted the Ivy League Volleyball Coach of the Year.

Given the caliber of Yale’s program it was reasonable to assume there was trepidation on Maile's part in terms of her concern that she might be unable to compete at such a high level.

“I definitely was nervous going into my freshman year whether or not I would be able to contribute to the program in the way I wanted to,” said Maile. “I had doubts about whether I deserved to be there. But once I arrived and we got into the gym, I gave 110 percent from the start and wanted to earn a starting position.

“I think the coaches could see how much I wanted to be out there and it kind of paid off.”

Good point.

As a freshman, Maile played in 79 sets, the most of any first year; she led Yale with 22 service aces; and she was third with 210 digs.

“I think she contributed a lot as a first year at Yale,” said Coach Appleman. “We relied heavily on her volleyball IQ as well as her athleticism.”

Because each of those qualities which Maile possesses, she plays a key position, the libero (i.e. the libero is a back row player who’s usually the best passer on a team).

“She can play any back row position but will be the starting libero for the next three years,” said Coach Appleman. “If you have a good libero, that player should be contacting the ball in every rally.

“I think her specialty is she passes and plays defense. Maile’s defense is what makes her so special. She’s quick-twitched which means she can get from Point A to Point B very quickly.”

Maile also was quick to give credit to her high school coach, Ron Enos.

“I think Ron was a really important mentor for me as a player and taught me how to be an effective leader and how to focus on having positive composure around my teammates.

“In high school it was a lower level of play. At times it could have been frustrating but Ron really led me in the right direction and taught me how to be a leader and help people technically and emotionally.”

Understandably her parents played a major role in helping Maile to develop to the point where she could play at such a high level.

“Both of my parents are fantastic coaches and literally changed my playing style plus my mindset but in different ways,” she said. “My mother is an amazing technical coach. She’s been super supportive in my young career in building my confidence and taking extra time in building skills that I’m less confident about.

“Both of my parents worked with me at a young age to develop my technical skills and build off my athleticism. They always included me in their college practices and let me watch other amazing Division I players when I was younger. I always was surrounded by high-caliber athletes at a young age.”

Having parents who were so steeped in the sport was a plus for Maile.

“I think it’s a huge advantage,” said Coach Appleman. “I’m sure conversations around the dinner table centered on intangibles like what it takes to be a great teammate, to be able to learn and be able to compete.

“Maile easily could be in a Top 25 program. It speaks volumes that she chose Yale because of the academics. On the court her leadership is going to be a huge factor and I think she makes other players better.”

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