Cudworth sisters fly together again

Noah Cloonan

When the Ashland volleyball team takes the court on Sept. 13 in their home opener against Malone, there will be three new faces on the squad. But for one senior, one of these faces will be a little more familiar than the rest. 

Sophi Cudworth will be joining her All-American sister, Alli Cudworth on the court this fall as the team looks to reload their talent and make a push for the NCAA tournament. 

This will not be the first time the Cudworth’s have played side-by-side as they played one year together at Theodore Roosevelt High School in 2012. 

“In high school it was really rough,” Alli said. “Now that we are here in different positions, and we have different jobs to do it is a lot easier and a lot more fun and I am glad she is here” 

The sisters recognize that playing on the same team as one of your siblings is something that not everyone gets to be a part of, but it comes with its fair share of challenges.

“Because we played the same position it made it a little challenging but it also forced us to see the court differently,” Alli said. “It made us a lot closer and then once we were apart we were kind of like ‘oh man’ now its a lot different.”

After graduation the sisters said they were able to look back on their time as teammates and realize how special of an opportunity it was to be on the same team. 

Sophi recalled many times where Alli was able to come along side her and cheer her up and pick her up after she made a mistake or had a miss hit. 

That is something that both sisters missed after Alli graduated and came to Ashland in 2013. After Alli left, the two became even closer and realized what they missed about playing with each other. 

“We’ve gotten closer over the years,” Sophi said. “It’s a lot easier to communicate with each other now.”

Alli will return as the Eagles starting outside hitter. Sophi, on the other hand, will be competing for a spot as a middle blocker and a right-side hitter. As a senior, Sophi tallied 391 kills, 64 blocks, 23 aces and 114 bids. She also broke Alli’s record for career kills and set a new mark of 964 career kills.

Sophi originally did not think she would ever play with her sister again, but after looking at many different colleges, she decided to follow in her sister’s footsteps and become an Eagle. 

Sophi says that the facilities and coaching staff both played a roll in why she choose the school, but in the end having another chance to play with her sister was the icing on the cake.

“There is nothing the same,” Sophi said. “I thought it would be pretty cool to play with her again in a different setting.” 

Along with the change in setting, it will be a new coach for Sophi as well. Head coach Cass Dixon recognizes the challenges behind coaching sisters.  

“Sophi [Cudworth] is a really different situation than I’ve ever been in before, I’ve never had sisters that were different ages,” Dixon said. “It will be interesting to see how that dynamic developed throughout the season. 

The younger sister is going to have some big shoes to fill after Alli’s illustrious career and she recognizes the precedent that Alli has set. 

“She is definitely amazing so it is going to be hard to follow in her footsteps,” Sophie said.

The sisters will have just one season to play together again before Alli graduates but they are looking to make the most of their time together.

“We want to come out strong,” Alli said. “We want to make it to the GLIAC tournament and win the GLIAC tournament, but overall, getting to the NCAAs is the number one goal.”