Greenhill Freshman Finds Home in the Middle

Gillen-Malveaux chosen for USA Volleyball Development Program

Zoe Gillen-Malveaux stands out in more ways than one. 

The 6-foot-3 freshman already is taller than all of her Greenhill School volleyball teammates, and she’s made an immediate impact as an intimidating middle blocker.

In volleyball, being the tallest player on the court has obvious advantages. Off the court, that’s not always the case. As a young girl, sometimes you’d rather just fit in.

“I always had mixed emotions about being tall,” Gillen-Malveaux said. “I was sometimes insecure, but as I’ve gotten older, I’ve become more comfortable about my height.”

So, volleyball has been a natural fit, both physically and psychologically. Gillen-Malveaux played lacrosse when she was little, but she remembers the introduction to her new sport.

“I saw a college volleyball game, and I saw everyone with the same build as me,” she said. “Everyone was really tall like me.”

Gillen-Malveaux found a competitive club team around the start of fifth grade and has never looked back.

“I was able to play at a really good club and get really good coaches,” she said. “I was able to put in the time and the effort and improve.”

Last summer, she was chosen for the USA Volleyball National Team Development Program, which identifies and trains prospects to represent the United States in future international competitions. That enabled Gillen-Malveaux to train alongside other top players for a week in July in Anaheim, California, and a September weekend in Orlando.

The adjustment to varsity has been seamless, even though Gillen-Malveaux plays with and against girls up to three years older.

“She has adjusted well. Sometimes she gets those big eyes. Sometimes the game slows down for her to focus a little more,” said Greenhill head coach Tatiane Deibert. “In the middle, there’s so much to think about and so little time to react. Playing with older players will be beneficial for her.”

Gillen-Malveaux and fellow freshman Campbell Sims have formed a promising combination at the net for the Hornets, who will seek their first SPC championship since 2016 at the conference tournament beginning Nov. 4 in Dallas.

“It challenges my game. I have to adjust and play well against girls with more experience,” Gillen-Malveaux said. “We have a really good group of girls chemistry-wise and skill-wise. On the court, that really helps us succeed.”

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