UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Redshirt freshman Nia Reed began playing volleyball in the eighth grade after her mother persuaded her to attend a DIGS clinic. Reed tried out for the volleyball club, made the team and has had an incredible amount of success since that moment.
Reed was a four-year starter at her high school, Immaculate Heart Academy (New Jersey), and led its volleyball team to four consecutive non-public state championship titles. She also earned the 2012 and 2013 Bergen Record Player of the Year and the New Jersey Gatorade Player of the Year from 2011-13.
But her biggest takeaway from all of those accomplishments? Being a role model to her siblings.
"I have five sisters and one brother," said Reed. "I love coming from a big family because everywhere we travel, there's always someone there supporting me...I love being the older sister because I'm the role model for all my younger sisters. I'm glad that I can set a good example for them."
Though her sisters are all under the age of 12, all but one are currently playing volleyball at a community center or for a club team, and Reed believes that they will continue to play volleyball in their future. It's even possible for them to aspire to attend to Penn State, like Reed did.
"I picked the Penn State program because of the winning tradition, Coach (Russ) Rose, the players, the coaching staff; everyone is really down to Earth here, and I love it," said Reed. "I wouldn't pick any other place to be."
Last season, Reed was able to perform due to injury, but she has been making a valuable impact on the team so far this season. She recorded a career-high of six kills and three blocks against Michigan State three weeks ago, and she's continually getting better.
"I think Nia continues to improve," said Rose. "Nia, unfortunately, had an injury that set her back, and what I thought Nia needed the most was just playing. The more playing she could do, the better she was going to get by just being comfortable on the floor. I really think that [the injury] slowed her down quite a bit, but her strength is that she's a great athlete, she's a terrific teammate, and I think she's eager to play."
Since the start of the season, Reed's biggest improvement is her mental ability and toughness of playing, hitting and getting more comfortable without her brace. Nonetheless, Reed wants to develop her leadership skills to be a role model on the court.
"I have a lot to work on, like my leadership skills and being a leader on the court because Coach Rose has always said that he's looking for a leader or more energy coming from the younger players, so I'm hoping to be more of role model and vocal leader, like bringing more energy to the team, and doing all that I can as a hitter to support the team."
Aside from volleyball, Reed loves to go to the movies, go shopping and do interior designing. Her favorite activity though is movie nights with her roommates every Sunday.
"[My favorite movie] is Love, Rosie," said Reed. "My roommates and I randomly picked this movie, and it ended up being a great film. We're obsessed with it."
But even with the slight road block due to injury Reed's journey, she couldn't imagine doing anything else besides volleyball.
"My favorite part about volleyball is the connections and friendships I've made playing over the year, playing volleyball in college and getting the opportunity to represent something as big as a program as this," said Reed.