Volleyball player makes D1 commitment


Senior Natalie Stepanovich plays a game against Perry High School. Stepanovich recently accepted a D1 scholarship to play volleyball.

After seven years of time and dedication, Natalie Stepanovich has made her choice to further her education at Robert Morris University.


Natalie has committed D1 to play volleyball and is planning on majoring in engineering and a minor in psychology. 


Volleyball was first brought into Natalie’s life by her mom, Heather Stepanovich. Her mom played through college, which set a goal for her to work towards. Heather was Natalie’s drive to keep going and push her to be the player she is today. 


“She humbled me and pushed me. She was a coach before a mom when it came to being on the court,” Natalie  said. 


Many Junior Olympic (JO) volleyball games were coached by her mom. 


JO is a volleyball league that Natalie plays outside of school. This is a much more competitive league that plays on a higher level. Playing JO has allowed Natalie to improve and set her up for success in high school volleyball.


Natalie has played on varsity ever since freshman year. Freshman year brought many challenges but that changed at the Jackson game. This would have been Jackson’s 100th win in a row. Natalie was able to serve the ball just right to in order secure the win for GlenOak. 


“Freshman year, Jackson away game, it was their 100th Federal League game. It was tied 13-13. I went back to serve and I aced the ball. Went back again 13-14 us, I served and the girl shanked it, hitting it to the net; 13-15 we won,” Stepanovich said.


After that game Natalie gained a fire in her that drove her to become a D1 athlete. She felt as if she made her place on the team and she was finally able to take her skills to the next level.


In her senior year, she has set the goal to have 1,000 kills throughout the entire season. A kill is anytime you attack the ball and it is not returned back over the net resulting in a point. Currently she has 387 kills. 


Even more than kills, she wanted to lead the team and create a safe environment. 


 As team captain for the past two years Natalie has been able to get to know the girls. She wanted a support system for the girls. She wants them to know their worth and place on the team. 


Natalie even has been able to play her senior season with her younger sister Sydney Stepanovich.


“At first it was weird, it was kinda like she was trying to do what I do and it was annoying. Now it’s enjoyable to play my last season with her because it is special,” Stepanovich said. 


Volleyball will never leave her life, even beyond college. It has been the outlet for her since the day she started. Natalie loves the game and everything that it has offered her. 


Natalie is the player she is because of the hard work she has put in and her coaches. Her high school coach of all four years Debra Pickering, never let her stop improving each game.


“She has taken on a leadership role within our program by being the voice on the court that pushes her teammates to be the best that they can be; playing with heart.”

— Debra Pickering


She has thanked her coach Pickering for creating the player she is today in the past four years. 


“Thank you for pushing me. Nobody has ever been complacent with me but she wanted me to get better,” Stepanovich said.  “She wanted me to go far. She still coached me even though my playing was consistent. That’s probably one of the reasons I want to keep playing in college,”


From her parents to her teammates, Natalie has received all the support she needed to reach her dreams.