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Volleyball Record Setter Morgan Williams: Earning Her Spot and Then Some

Head volleyball coach Ian Choi might have been troubled if another starter came to him wanting to balance an internship at The Late Show, academics, and her role on the team. But Morgan Williams was different.

“I said, ‘You know Mo, if it was anyone else I’d be really, really concerned, but I wasn’t concerned because it was you,’” he said. “She was able to do it all.”

From starting as a walk-on in her first year to breaking records her senior year, from juggling internships to pursuing a passion for storytelling, Morgan Williams, a television and film major in the Fordham College Rose Hill Class of 2020, proved her coach right.

Williams started all four years on the volleyball team as a libero—a defensive specialist position. Her senior year, she became the first Fordham player to win the Atlantic 10 Libero of the Year award. She broke seven school records and tied an eighth, making her Fordham’s most decorated libero.

Lately she’s been reflecting on some of the excitement of past games.

“There’s so many little moments that I’ve been thinking about,” Williams said.

One of those was the match against George Washington near the end of her senior season.

“We were down in the fifth set, I think 11 to 14—we had one really long rally and won. For as long as I’ve been playing volleyball, it feels like whenever the game is on the line and nobody wants to be the one serving, it always ends up being my turn,” she said with a laugh. “It happened in the George Washington game, and we came back and won and it was just such an amazing feeling.”

Williams became the program’s all-time digs leader, finishing her career with 1,862. She finished her senior season with 641 digs, at a pace of 6.05 per set, ranking her in the top 10 nationally in both categories.

Add it all up, and Williams is now one of the most decorated Fordham volleyball players of all time, something she never thought possible when she began her career as a walk-on.

While Williams, originally from Los Angeles, planned to play volleyball like her sister Ashlie, who played at Georgetown, she was a late recruit to Fordham, committing in April of her senior year of high school. By then, all of the athletic scholarships had been distributed. Still, Williams decided to bet on herself.

“I had a plan to earn my spot, and then also hopefully earn a scholarship,” she said. “I was really intimidated at first because there were two liberos ahead of me. I worked really hard and … when it was time for our fall preseason game, my coach read off the starting lineup and she read my name off as the libero.”

Once Williams got the spot, she never let it go, missing just three sets in her entire career. She was awarded a scholarship for her final two years.

“It was calculated by her, and it was self-actualized,” Choi said. “She demonstrated more than enough value.”

Volleyball was Williams’ first love, but her passion for storytelling grew alongside it.

At one point in high school, she said, her love for the game also began to cause her some anxiety.

“So my dad found me this writing class at UCLA … and it was three hours long and all you did was write stories. It was the best outlet.”

She grew to love writing dialogue and set her sights on screenwriting, which inspired her to major in television and film. When Williams got the chance to intern at The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, she knew she couldn’t let it slip away. Still, the internship would require her to miss a few practices, something that traditionally wasn’t allowed.

Williams presented the opportunity to her coaches who helped her come up with a workaround, albeit one that required long hours on her part.

“Mondays would start with an early morning lift,” she said. “[I’d] get out, shower, get dressed, hop on the train, get to work around 8:30, 9 … and when it was over, I’d head straight back to the gym, and one of my assistant coaches would be there with the court set up and we would do an hour, hour and a half of reps…and then I would go home and do my homework.”

“That was most definitely my toughest semester at Fordham,” Williams added, but also said it gave her some incredible memories.

“It was just really cool to watch Stephen [Colbert] test out jokes to make sure that when it was showtime he gave the people the funniest stuff he could,” she said. “Soundcheck was awesome because I could watch it for both the house band, which is stacked with super cool jazz musicians, and for the music guest.”

Choi said that he was proud of her for being able to balance it all that semester.

“Spot on for Mo to finish her career with this award—the only Libero of the Year I know who got to work with Stephen Colbert,” Choi said. “I’m happy to see her go out this way.”

Williams plans to continue to play volleyball recreationally and hopes to volunteer to teach it at local schools. She’s also applying for jobs in the media industry and working on a few side projects, including a book about the journey of a volleyball player and the lessons learned along the way.

“It’s been a really crazy ride, but something I wouldn’t trade in a million years,” she said.


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