By Owen Russell
The Women’s Volleyball team started the season well, currently holding a 5-3 record. The Bulldogs’ winning ways can be attributed to stellar team play, but one player is already making her mark on the young season. Ashley Fung, a sophomore outside hitter, was named both CUNYAC’s Women’s Volleyball Preseason Player of the Year and Player of the Week after helping Brooklyn College win three straight matches.
“I attribute my successes to the support of my friends, family, as well as my love for the game,” Fung told The Vanguard. “Due to my love for the sport, I feel like I’ve spent so many hours perfecting my craft, and in the long run, received so many positive outcomes like Rookie of the Year and Player of the Week.”
Fung put up absurd numbers in her Rookie of the Year campaign in 2019. She led Brooklyn in points with 399.5, over 100 more than the second-leading scorer. That feeling of support, Fung explained, extends to her teammates as well.
“My teammates have played an extremely important role in my college career,” Fung added. And while yes, her teammates helped mold her game, their contributions off the court stand out as well.
During a time of financial hardship for Fung and her family, the other women on the Bulldogs’ volleyball team stepped up and helped out.
“Many of my teammates would pay for my meals and even bring me home-cooked food just so I could survive another day,” said Fung. “My teammates have also helped me academically: showing me around campus, helping me with my homework, and even assisting me with making my schedule.” The admirable support from her teammates, according to Fung, helped her become the player she is today.
In addition, Fung’s talent and work ethic have not gone unnoticed by Mateusz Gotowicki, the head coach of Brooklyn College Women’s Volleyball program.
“Ashley is an absolutely fantastic player and person,” said Gotowicki. “She plays intensely, leaving nothing on the court. Some may say she is a complete player. Her importance is immense to the team, and it would be extremely difficult to achieve what we have achieved without her.” It is exactly this presence that led Gotowicki to name Fung as one of the team’s captains.
Led by Fung’s intensity, the Bulldogs have been off to a hot start, marked by accomplishments across the board. Aleah Rafat, a freshman outside hitter, was named Rookie of the Week the same week Fung was named Player of the Week, and Ezri Shor, a junior setter, notched her 1000th career assist. At 5-3, the Bulldogs sit atop the CUNYAC.
The return to the court, however, has been a bittersweet one for Fung.
“It felt great at first to be back in the gym with my wonderful team. It was amazing to meet some of the newbies,” said Fung. But for so many reasons, this season is certainly unlike any Fung or the Bulldogs have played before.
The lack of spectators has left a sour taste in the mouth of Brooklyn College fans, and the same can be said for some of the athletes. Fung noted that many of the players on the team have family members who would normally attend home games, but due to the current policy, their relatives have been unable to. The struggles, however, have not stopped there.
“Due to COVID, we don’t really get any of the privileges we used to,” said Fung. The team no longer has access to the locker room, and are instead forced to lug their gear around campus until game time. After matches, food is no longer provided. Not to mention, the players have been playing in shoes from the previous season, which are beginning to tear apart due to overuse.
“All in all, I truly love being back on the court,” Fung stressed. “I just wish we got a little more recognition for all the hardships COVID has thrown our way.”
Despite the less-than-ideal circumstances, Fung and the rest of the team have gotten off to a strong start.