Setter Tori Dozier '20 looks to re-energize volleyball team

| 9/25/17 1:05am

Tori Dozier ’20 came to Dartmouth this fall from North Carolina State University, her hometown school.

by Evan Morgan / The Dartmouth

Tori Dozier ’20 always wanted to play volleyball at her hometown school, North Carolina State University.

“I committed to NC State as a sophomore,” Dozier said. “I’m from Raleigh, it was close to home, I wanted to play in the [Atlantic Coast Conference] and I liked the coaches and knew I could make an immediate impact under those coaches.”

However, like most people, her preferences changed as she grew older. As she progressed through high school, she understandably questioned the commitment her younger self had made. And a coaching change just prior to her first season for the Wolfpack only exacerbated these doubts.

“[The coaching change] made me look into different options, that maybe this isn’t the best place for me anymore,” Dozier said.

In search of a completely different experience, she began to consider more academically rigorous schools. One of her club volleyball coaches at the Triangle Volleyball Club in North Carolina knew volleyball head coach Gilad Doron and put the two in contact during the beginning of her second semester at NC State. Although Dartmouth was not on her radar as a high school student, frequent conversations with the coaching staff and the athletic department convinced Dozier that this small college in New Hampshire would be the right place for her, and she hasn’t looked back since.

“I love the team, and I love the school,” Dozier said. “I love the support of my teammates and the coaching staff, I like the classes — I think the teachers are incredible and I love the class sizes.”

Indeed, Dozier seems to have transitioned well. As the team’s setter, the position that Doron compared to a quarterback or point guard, she has made an immediate impact. Dozier has played in all but one of the 39 sets the team has played so far, putting up 267 assists at a good clip of 7.03 assists per set. But her skill as a setter is not limited to assists.

“For a setter, she’s very athletic and she can hurt you in many different ways,” Doron said. “She can block, she can attack and she plays pretty good defense.”

Beyond her athleticism, her focus and drive has impressed her coaches over the years. Her high school coach at Cardinal Gibbons High School, Logan Barber, who was also one of her club coaches for the Triangle Volleyball Club, noted that her work ethic was more impressive than anything else.

“Anytime she was on the court, she was working harder than anyone else, trying to find a way to be successful,” Barber said. “It kind of sets the tone for what everyone else needs to be doing, because as the setter she’s looked to as a leader almost by default.”

Armed with this lead-by-example attitude, Dozier figures to be at the core of the women’s volleyball team’s rebuilding. According to Dozier, the team already has the camaraderie essential to building a great program.

“They’re incredible, especially the lack of separation between the upperclassmen and the underclassmen is amazing to me, since there’s usually a separation between the freshmen class and the rest of the team,” Dozier said. “It’s really like a family, they’ve been so supportive, it’s so helpful.”

In a similar vein, the Dartmouth coaching staff has made her transition to a smaller team from a large state school easier. Dozier felt that the focus of the volleyball program at NC State was too skewed toward athletics and appreciates the balance of the Dartmouth program.

“[The coaches are] constantly communicating with me about how I’m doing in school, how my social life is, how transferring is,” Dozier said. “I feel like at bigger schools, it can get confusing to the athlete because they’re only seen by their coaches as an athlete. Here, it’s still Division I and it’s still competitive but you get the aspect of ‘school’s a big priority’ which is really nice.”

Dozier also brings experience competing on a big stage from her high school and club career. With Cardinal Gibbons, Dozier won two state championships and competed across the country with her club team, placing second at the AAU Tournament in 2014.

Although she is listed as a sophomore, she will graduate in the fall of 2020, meaning that she will play four seasons for the Big Green. Her main goal? Bring the first Ivy League Championship to Hanover.

“I feel that I have a lot I owe to the program,” Dozier said. “I feel so blessed and honored that they chose me to come to this school — it’s such an amazing opportunity — so I’m going to work as hard as I can to build the name of the program. We haven’t won an Ivy Championship yet, so I’m going to be there every day working my butt off so we can accomplish this goal.”

Overall, the Big Green is excited for the future.

“[Dozier] is already coming on a pretty good level, and she’s only going to get better. If she can continue to develop and have the mindset to grow herself with her team to be one of the best the league has ever had,” Doron said.

Despite losing to Harvard University this past weekend, Dozier and the team are hoping to bounce back in its games against Columbia University and Cornell University this Friday and Saturday, respectively.