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The A&T Register

The Student News Site of North Carolina A&T State University

The A&T Register

The Student News Site of North Carolina A&T State University

The A&T Register

N.C. A&T Volleyball Player’s Journey to 1000 Career Kills

Kevin Dorsey
Photo courtesy @shutterkevd

What does hard work, passion and over a decade of dedication to athletic excellence look like? 

Nearing almost 1,000 career kills in only two years, N.C. A&T’s Naiya Sawtwlle is demonstrating excellence on the volleyball court.

Sawtelle is a senior business administration student, and an outside hitter on A&T’s women’s volleyball team. As she works to achieve 1,000 career kills, she will likely join the ranks of only three other volleyball players in A&T’s history.

She entered the 2023 season with a whopping 825 kills and has amassed 947 kills since the start of the season.

 “It’s exciting. It is definitely rewarding,” said Sawtelle. “I actually didn’t realize how close I was until I got back this fall.” 

The Florida native grew up surrounded by sports. As the youngest of four athletic siblings and the daughter of two collegiate athletes, she was immersed in the world of sports from a very young age. 

Growing up in such an environment added to her competitive nature. 

“We are a super competitive family,” said Sawtelle. “There was always some type of athletic competition.” 

Sawtelle began playing sports when she was ten but began playing volleyball at 14. As she got older, she got involved in other sports.

Volleyball took her main focus when she realized where it could take her. 

“When I started getting interests from colleges, I really focused on it,” said Sawtelle. “This is what’s going to get me to the next level.”

She continues to stay motivated through her family and setting her own goals.

 “I am a very internally motivated person; I set my goals really high,” said Sawtelle. “Me trying to beat myself each day, each week, is what helps me stay focused and motivated throughout the season.” 

Not only does Sawtelle put in the physical work, she also prepares for every game mentally by studying any upcoming opponent.

 “I break down their main hitters, main defenders, blockers and write down tendencies just to get a better idea of how they play,” Sawtelle said. 

When it’s game time, she ensures she is fully prepared and focused by working on her shots, taking full advantage of the other team’s weaknesses. 

With volleyball taking up so much time and devotion, Sawtelle has to make sure she doesn’t get burned out so she can bring her all into every game.

 “Volleyball is my life when I am here,” said Sawtelle. “Having a healthy balance between work, school, volleyball, and time with friends is my biggest thing.” 

Sawtelle has been recognized as Player of the Week several times by the Coastal Athletic Association (CAA) for her incredible performance on the court. 

“It was definitely a surprise,” said Sawtelle. “ It was rewarding being able to know that other people acknowledge what I do on the court.” 

As an upcoming graduate this December, Sawtelle plans to pursue her master’s degree in sports management. 

After her college career, she hopes to play professional volleyball overseas and work in marketing within the sports world. She also wants to coach young athletes who want to play volleyball at the collegiate level. 

As she plans her next steps after college, fans can still catch her on the court while she’s here. 

Watch her rack up kills at the Lady Aggies’ next game on Sept. 23 at Moore Gymnasium against Hampton University.

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