‘I’m an undersized hitter’: Bridgette Smith leaves her impact on the court

Hornets volleyball player gives it her all


Michael Pacheco

Bridgette Smith poses for a portrait before women’s volleyball practice at The Nest on November 1, 2022. After being named second team all-conference as a freshman, Smith was named first team all-Big Sky conference in 2021 as a sophomore.

Arely Duran

 Bridgette Smith’s love for volleyball came from her older sister, who she views as a role model. 

“My sister, she’s older than me, she played volleyball too. So she was always a role model. I want to do what she wanted to do,” Smith said.

Smith grew up watching her sister play volleyball and fell in love with it. It eventually led her to want to play at a college level. She played various positions before sticking to the position she loves, outside hitter. 

Smith’s sister, Delaney is a 6’ 2” senior middle blocker for the Wolves at Western Oregon University.  

“She was always in top teams,” Smith said. “I want to be like her, she’s awesome.”

Smith grew up watching her sister older sister Delaney play volleyball and it eventually led her to want to play at a college level.  Smith started her volleyball career in the fourth grade at a local YMCA but didn’t start club volleyball until sixth grade. 

Smith is a 5’10 outside hitter who joined the Hornet volleyball team in 2020. She currently has 288 kills and 234 digs in the 2022 season. Smith is majoring in Biology and is looking into being a dentist someday like her father.

As a freshman, Smith was Big Sky Conference Freshman of the Year. The last time this was awarded to a Hornet volleyball player was in 2004 to middle blocker Lindsay Haupt. Smith started in all 17 matches and 63 sets that year.

“I’m an undersized hitter. I’m 5’10 that seems tall, but like usually they’re 6’3,” Smith said. “So that was the biggest frustration because I would email different colleges and not even receive an email back.” 

As an outstanding player at Sprague High School, Smith was a starting outside hitter for the Olympians, who led her team to three conference championships and an appearance in a state championship.

In high school, Smith accumulated 509 kills, 295 digs and 67 aces. Throughout her career, she gathered an amazing 1,175 kills, 1,063 digs and 178 aces. She was her school’’s all–time leader in career kills and aces, as well as ranked second in digs.

In Smith’s senior year of high school, she was awarded second team all-state Mountain Valley Conference player of the year.  

Smith was also on the tennis team in addition to volleyball. She said she had to choose between the two sports the two sports because both club volleyball and tennis were in the spring. 

“It was a no brainer. I was like, I’m gonna pick volleyball,” Smith said.

Sac State volleyball head coach Ruben Volta said Smith is a hard worker and provides leadership to her teammates. 

“She is a very well-balanced person, works really hard in a classroom and it carries over to volleyball,” said Volta. 

Smith brought her work ethic to Sac State, knowing how to balance her school work, social life and volleyball. 

“It’s definitely a struggle to balance everything,” Smith said. “I feel like my major I chose is a pretty tough major too. My dad, he’s a dentist, biology major and I want to be a dentist, so I say that he’s my role model.”

As a teammate, senior libero Caty Cordano said she has seen growth in Smith on the court and off the court. Cardano was a sophomore when Smith arrived at the program and has been close since.   

“She held a confidence about her, which spread to the rest of the team,” Cordano said. “What she does on a day to day to make herself better of a player makes the rest of the team better.” 

When arriving at Sac State, Smith said it wasn’t easy moving away from Oregon during COVID. It was very overwhelming transitioning from high school to college. 

“You’re riding a roller coaster, figuring stuff out as a freshman,” Smith said. “Since we couldn’t have our season in the fall, I had a whole fall to kind of prepare myself for the spring season.” 

A positive result of COVID, the team and her became very team oriented because as a freshman her fall season was up in the air and it brought the entire team closer together.  

Smith is eligible to play for another year with the Hornets. She said she is sad at how fast time has flown by but is grateful for that extra year. 

“Thankfully, with COVID, I have another year, which is nice,” Smith said. “But obviously, time flies and so that’s a little scary. I don’t even know how I’m in my third year already.” 

Head coach Volta helped shape Smith into the player she is today and always believed in her to play at her best, according to Smith. Volta is in his 15th season as head coach for the hornets and is an alumnus from Sac State.                                

“Ruben helped me out and I felt like I found my place my sophomore year,” Smith said. “I knew my role and so that was really good. Ruben always reminded me why I was out on the court and why he put me there and why I belong there.”

Smith hopes to pursue professional volleyball after college with ambitions to sign with a team overseas.

Although she plans on playing volleyball after her time at Sac State, Smith also wants to attend dental school and become the dentist she aims to be. 

Smith keeps working hard to be the player she is today and doesn’t plan on stopping anytime soon. 

“Me and my friends always joke around,” Smith said. “Back home, my club coach, he has an agent who can help me find teams to sign within Europe, so I’ve been considering that.”