A first-year and a senior on NYU women’s volleyball’s historic season

NYU women’s volleyball went on a dominant regular-season that took them to the NCAA Division III tournament. Dominique Drust and Abby Ausmus sat down with Sports Editor Mitesh Shrestha to discuss what the season meant to them.

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NYU Women’s Volleyball celebrates their 2021 University Athletic Association Conference Championship victory over Emory University. This win was part of a historic season for the team. (Image courtesy of Abby Ausmus)

Mitesh Shrestha, Sports Editor

First-year Dominique Drust and senior Abby Ausmus provide their perspectives on their team’s dominant 2021 season. Drust provided an immediate impact as she finished second on the team in assists. Ausmus capped off a legendary collegiate career with a season that netted her the University Athletic Association’s Most Valuable Player award, among other accolades. While the season ultimately met a disappointing end in the NCAA Division III Tournament Regional Round to Trinity University, both players described how this season impacted their respective lives.

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

What were your expectations entering this season? 

Dominique Drust: Coming into the season, I didn’t know what to expect. The team’s conference record and NCAA track record weren’t very consistent, so I wasn’t sure what type of team we were going to have.

Abby Ausmus: After an almost-two-year hiatus, the other seniors and I were kinda unsure what the level of play was going to be. We ourselves hadn’t played in a very long time together. We kind of had this mentality going into it of “let’s just have fun.”

What did this historic season mean to you? 

Drust: I was just so amazed by the talent we had this year and how we were able to execute, especially being a freshman. I just felt so happy to be a part of a revolutionary season that was definitely a program-changer. It was more than I could have ever imagined.

Ausmus: I was super grateful and pleasantly surprised to have this amazing, historic season — my last one. You couldn’t ask for anything better than the most crazy, most awesome season to end your career on. I was grateful for the chance to play one last time and grateful for the level of play we accomplished.

Can you describe the relationship between the team’s underclassmen and upperclassmen?

Drust: Having the privilege to play with these seniors is something that I’ll never forget. Our captain Abby Ausmus is an exceptional leader. She has always instilled in me to always dig deep and to not give up when we’re pushed with adversity. She really motivated us to be competitive and not let it get in the way of winning. Her presence on the court and just her leadership through words and by example. Same as Lauren Robinson. I played the majority of my court time with her, and she is so passionate about the game. We got to share our love for volleyball together, which made our chemistry unmatched. She put trust in me and I put trust in her. As a senior-freshman relationship, it was very strong. It was like we had been playing together for nine years. I just felt so welcomed by them and both their abilities to make us want to succeed.

Ausmus: We really had two classes of freshmen, because the sophomores came in during COVID-19 and they didn’t have a season. They didn’t even know how it was supposed to go and what the team usually looks like. The upperclassmen took up this role to show them the ropes of living in the city, how to get to practice on the subway and how to be disciplined. I think we really lead by example. We work hard in practice. We’re talking. At the end of every practice we kind of sit in a circle and give our compliments to people that worked hard in practice that day. We really support each other, encourage each other, and that makes the underclassmen more comfortable with seeing the upperclassmen as a resource to help them with anything. Especially during preseason, we get these two weeks where school hasn’t started yet, but we’re on campus and we’re hanging out every day — you just get really comfortable. It’s just a big group of friends, and we all just hang out all the time — it really becomes more than my teammate.

What were your feelings after a disappointing end to such an impressive season?

Drust: I think that the most disappointing part was that everybody on the team is so passionate about our team. We care so much about each other. Every person on and off the court put their heart and soul into that game, and for it not to go our way… I think it was the most disappointing and crushing feeling I’ve felt in my athletic career thus far. It was very emotional seeing how the program has grown from these seniors’ freshman year to now. I think it wasn’t the ending we wanted, but it was very crushing considering the seniors’ role on the team. I think it was just a lot to process; it was a very emotional evening for sure.  

Ausmus: Our team knew that we gave it our all. We were already so proud of all that we had accomplished during the season. I know the seniors were, you know, pretty happy with how things went, even though we lost in the end. That’s the first time in a while I think we’ve gone to the NCAA tournament. Like it didn’t even matter because we had done so much.

How do you plan to carry on the legacy of this year’s class of seniors? 

Drust: The seniors touched all of us, the underclassmen, and we’re going to play every game with their words in our heads. I think it’s only going to go up from here. I’m really excited to be a part of the journey for three more years with an experience that is just so wonderful and positive. It just makes me excited to not only do what we did this year, but do better in the tournament next year — and hopefully win.

What parting advice do you have for the underclassmen? 

Ausmus: Just keep it going. I mean, we were there for when the team wasn’t great until the team was the best it’s been in a while. So, you know, you can do it all. If you just work hard, you can do whatever you want to accomplish. I don’t know, our team went from being like, the year before our class, 11-22 to something like 25-2. You never know what’s going to happen. You should just keep working hard as if you’re going to reach whatever goal it is that you’re aiming for.

Contact Mitesh Shrestha at [email protected]