Former Quinnipiac volleyball outside hitter Natalie Alechko transfers to Fairfield


Photo: Quinnipiac Athletics

Katie O'Keefe

From Bobcat to Stag.

Former Quinnipiac outside hitter Natalie Alechko has transferred to Fairfield University’s volleyball program to fulfill her final year of NCAA eligibility.

“Even though my career was done at QU, I still had eligibility left that I wanted to finish,” Alechko said. “My love and dedication for playing volleyball and being an athlete never left, even throughout my injury.”

Despite being named one of the team’s co-captains in 2018, Alechko’s junior season, she did not play a single game. The powerhouse hitter forfeited the season due to a torn ACL, medial and lateral meniscus from earlier that spring.

Though she did not play, Alechko was often seen on the sidelines helping her teammates with strategy, not in uniform but with a clipboard in hand.

Alechko then left the program before the 2019 season, according to the team’s roster.

Before the injury, the go-to hitter recorded 614 kills over two seasons, leading the team in the category her sophomore year with 334.

Not only was Alechko a leader on the net, but she also was a part of some of Quinnipiac’s biggest moments. In 2016, she had the winning kill against Niagara for the Bobcats’ first postseason win since 2000.

As a first-year, she teamed up with her sister, Sam — then a senior.

Alechko also attended Northern Valley Old Tappan High School, a New Jersey school well-known for its decorated volleyball program. There, she had 726 kills.

In order to be granted another year of eligibility, a student-athlete’s injury must be during their four seasons of college competition, or senior year of high school, according to the NCAA. The injury must also be season-ending or incapacitating. The student-athlete must have played in less than 30% of the season or three contests, whichever comes first.

While Alechko is excited to play competitively again, she is also pursuing a master’s degree in public administration at Fairfield. Alechko graduated from Quinnipiac this past May with degrees in legal studies and economics.

Universities across the country are working to safely welcome students back in the fall amid the coronavirus pandemic. While Quinnipiac has announced a hybrid plan for the fall, tentative with changing health conditions, Fairfield has not decided whether classes will be online, in-person, or a mix of both.

Both Quinnipiac and Fairfield’s volleyball programs compete in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference (MAAC), which plans to start fall sports on Sept. 11.

The in-state rivalry heated up last season when No. 6 Quinnipiac (14-16) reached the conference finals, ultimately losing to the Stags 3-1.

Fairfield finished that same season 24-6. The Stags have also won four of the last five MAAC championships.

The 2020 schedule has not yet been released, but the Quinnipiac-Fairfield matchups might mean something extra.

Yet, with Alechko now on the other side of the net, she’s only focused on one thing: the ball.

“I don’t expect it to be any different than any other game against any other opponent,” Alechko said.

Regardless of if and when the 2020 season starts, the Bobcats lost high achievers on the court due to May’s graduation; including Lauren Miller, Kaleigh Oates, Maria Pansari and Alejandra Rodriguez, who was named MAAC Libero of the Year.

Newcomers to the hopeful season will feature a defensive specialist, two middle blockers, an outside hitter and a setter.