Athlete Spotlight: Mount Greylock volleyball's Marley Buffis and Maddie Albert
With the Western Massachusetts high school volleyball tournament seeds coming out on Tuesday, we decided to catch up with a pair of volleyball players from Mount Greylock for our latest Athlete Spotlight feature. Marley Buffis and Maddie Albert are both senior captains for the Mounties, and helped their team to a 14-4 record in the regular season and a berth in the Western Mass. Division III tournament. Buffis, who recorded her 1,000th career dig in a match earlier this fall, is the libero for the Mounties, while Albert can play anywhere on the court for the Mounties, although typically she lines up as a setter. With the playoffs right around the corner, The Eagle picked Buffis' and Albert's brains for some volleyball information, what's on the lunch menu at school, and what app is a must-have on their cellphones.
BERKSHIRE EAGLE: Start first; when did you two start playing volleyball together?
MARLEY BUFFIS: Together? In the fourth grade. Same time [at the CYC]. Maddison's sister played, and my mom played, and they both kind of told us that we should play, and we were both kind of over soccer, so we were like let's try something new.
EAGLE: [To Maddie Albert] Do you prefer Maddison instead of Maddie?
ALBERT: She calls me Maddison.
BUFFIS: Everyone else calls her Maddie, I always call her Maddison, because that's what I've done since second grade. ... Most people call her Maddie, and I call her Maddison and they are like 'who are you talking about?' I'm like 'same person!'
EAGLE: What do you remember about the first couple of times you played together?
ALBERT: I remember that Marley could get the ball over the net when she was serving and I couldn't. But it's OK, I finally caught up to her when I got bigger.
BUFFIS: It was definitely hard. It was not an easy thing to start.
EAGLE: What are your roles on the court and on the team?
BUFFIS: I mean, pretty much I pass the ball to Maddie, Maddie sets it most of the time, but if she doesn't, then it still most of the time starts with me passing, someone setting, and if she's not setting she usually gets set. We're usually both in the play.
ALBERT: It's like, I played multiple different positions. Based on the game and our opponent, he [head coach Greg Geyer] will have me jump around. But since Marley is the No. 1 best passer on our team, we need her to be the libero. That's why. Otherwise Marley could be an outside hitter.
EAGLE: Each of you describe what is the most difficult part of your respective roles on the court.
BUFFIS: Definitely serve-receive as a libero is the hardest part. Because a hit from any given person is pretty much the same, but a serve from different people, every serve is so different, it's kind of hard to adjust. Especially everyone's first serve, is really hard to adjust to that until the game gets going.
ALBERT: For setting, I would say getting to where I need to be to set it right and not get a double hit — that's the most challenging part, so that I can give people good sets, because I'm not perfectly consistent yet. But we're working on that.
EAGLE: What's it the season been like with [coach Greg Geyer] as your coach? What's he been like to have as the lead man?
ALBERT: He's been really energetic and happy, and I think that's a really good coach for us, because we need somebody getting us motivated and excited to play. He does this thing where he wants all of us to cheer for each other all the time, and I really think that is a big part of why our team is so connected, because we are always saying 'great pass' or 'great hit' every single play, and even during practice we do that too.
BUFFIS: We've been pretty successful, so it's definitely a good thing. He's definitely a different coach than last year, and our first years playing, we had Coach [John] Albano. He was kind of a watch and then talk to us. Then last year, Megan [Albert] was always involved and always telling us what to do. Greg kind of has a different coaching style than I've ever been coached, but he's coached at so many different levels. From our club, which is very young ... and he's coached at Williams, and now he's coaching high school. He definitely knows how to coach. It's been good.
EAGLE: Most sports people have superstitions. Do you two have anything you do before games?
ALBERT: I set against the wall, and I will not play a game unless I've set against the wall before. I don't know if our team has any superstitions.
BUFFIS: I don't think I do either.
ALBERT: Our handshakes. We do handshakes before the game.
BUFFIS: Oh! We have the line. We have to pass on the 10-foot line.
ALBERT: Oh yeah, me and Marley together, that's our superstition.
BUFFIS: When we warm up as partners, there's the 10-foot line, and we always are on that. That's our line.
ALBERT: The team knows that too.
EAGLE: What are you girls doing to prepare for the Western Mass. tournament?
ALBERT: Our regular season ended a week ago, so it's just been constant practice. I think we are going to scrimmage PHS or something to get ready.
BUFFIS: We did a clinic with the Williams College coach, which was nice. We practiced a lot.
ALBERT: We're focusing on our serve-receive the most.
EAGLE: Shifting away from volleyball; how's life at the new Mount Greylock High School?
ALBERT: I love it. It's so nice to actually be in the gym again. Nothing against MCLA, but it's an extra 20 minutes out of the way.
BUFFIS: It was hard. Senior Night didn't feel like Senior Night at MCLA, and home games didn't feel like home games. Now, Seniors Night this year felt like Senior Night, and our home games really felt like home games.
EAGLE: What's the best item on the lunch menu?
BUFFIS: Neither of us get lunch from school.
ALBERT: But I've seen people, there's a certain soup, it's like corn chowder, and everyone likes the corn chowder.
EAGLE: What's the go-to item when you pack your lunch?
BUFFIS: I have a salad every single day.
ALBERT: I bring leftovers from the night before. So like steak, I like bringing steak.
EAGLE: Here's a philosophical question for you — what's better? A day spent at the lake or a day spent at the beach?
ALBERT: The lake.
BUFFIS: The beach.
ALBERT: I think the lake is better because there are no sharks. But that's just me. There's no sand that gets everywhere.
BUFFIS: I like the beach because there are waves, and usually a lot of good food around. And you get more sun at the beach.
EAGLE: What are you listening to right now?
ALBERT: I feel like people — I listen to country music. So people reading this aren't going to agree with us. We don't have the popular opinion on music.
BUFFIS: We'll play country and people will be like "what is this?"
EAGLE: What are your plans next for after graduation?
ALBERT: College. But I don't know where. I have to apply. The deadline is coming up this Thursday, and we'll see if I get in.
BUFFIS: I just want to study biology somewhere, and then med school after that.
EAGLE: Finally, what's one app on your phone that you could not live without?
ALBERT: I like Instagram better than Snapchat because I can just text them instead of sending them pictures.
BUFFIS: You can't use filters on Instagram!
ALBERT: I guess that's true.
This interview was conducted, transcribed and condensed by Geoff Smith.
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