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As one of only two players to play in all 82 sets last season, sophomore Caroline Douglas was a dominant presence on and off the court during her freshman campaign.

Credit: Gary Lin

It has only been one year since Caroline Douglas made the cross-country move to Penn, and she has already been instrumental for the Quakers on the volleyball court. 

The sophomore defensive specialist grew up in a volleyball family, with a brother who played at USC and a sister who plays at Dartmouth, so it only was natural for Douglas to pick up the family’s sport.

What began as only a hobby quickly turned into a passion to pursue. Douglas played soccer and volleyball simultaneously for most of her life, until she decided to turn her attention solely to volleyball in high school.

As Douglas fixated on volleyball, she crossed paths with a couple of players who would become her teammates at Penn. At 11, Douglas joined an under-12 club team as one of her first experiences on a team. On the same team was Taylor Fourticq, who is now a sophomore setter for Penn. The two then played volleyball together all four years at Marymount High School in Los Angeles.

“We have very similar lives on paper, but we also lead very different lives, but it’s nice to know I always have someone who went to Marymount with me,” Fourticq said. “We’re both lifting partners, and it’s just nice to be close with someone.”

Typically placed in a higher age group, Douglas was briefly on a team with junior defensive specialist Carmina Raquel. The two were able to play with each other for two years before high school. Seeing some familiar faces at Penn has been a big help for Douglas’ adjustment. 

“It’s such a comfort knowing that there’s a piece of home here,” Douglas said. “To have several people here, who we just know so much about each other and have known each other for so long, it’s great.”

In Douglas’ first year as a Quaker, she has already made a name for herself on the court for Penn. Her 144 digs last season made her the first freshman to eclipse the 100 dig mark since senior outside hitter Parker Jones did so in 2017. Douglas has also made it to the Ivy League honor roll twice, and was one of only two players to play in all 82 sets last season. Raquel was the other player to do so.

“It’s a testament to her consistency, not just in skill, but also in her contribution to our team dynamic, competitively,” Raquel said. 

For Douglas’ teammates, they not only appreciated the fact that Douglas contributed her athletic ability on the floor, but also her demeanor. Freshmen in fall sports have to quickly adjust and adapt to their teammates and become integrated into the team. For Douglas, the transition was easy, and she was not afraid to make her presence known.

“She’s definitely a firecracker, great energy all the time,” Raquel said. “Whether we’re losing or winning, her energy is always very stable, which is a good quality to have.”

Douglas’ outgoing personality and attitude doesn’t stop in between the lines, but extends off the court and into the locker room. Douglas has quickly become known as the jokester who lights up the room and puts a smile on everyone’s face. That outgoing personality is something that Douglas has always had with her and brought with her to Penn. Douglas’ lighthearted nature keeps her teammates’ spirits high.

“[Douglas] was very easy to open up to us,” Raquel said. “It’s so important for us, especially given how close we are as a team.”

As someone who never really stayed away from home for an extended period, the move to the East Coast was a big adjustment for her. Douglas was nervous that the move would also be difficult because everyone at Penn knew each other already, being from cities like Philadelphia or New York. Although Douglas misses being at the beach and being with her family, the transition has been easier because of the new family she’s made with her teammates.

“Coming in as a freshman and having an immediate family is so crucial, and I attribute so much of my love for this school to those first few months of being immediately accepted by this whole program,” Douglas said.

With social distancing protocols, Douglas has been able to get back into soccer and has gotten the opportunity to get back into surfing. When campus does open back up, Douglas hopes to get more involved with her sorority and find new opportunities for sports broadcasting and writing.

Although the coronavirus has put a pause on her sophomore season, Douglas is excited and ready to become a dominant force for Penn volleyball.