Rupert — a former Sullivan Central standout — is the only senior on the floor most of the time and is having a standout year, averaging a career-high 20 digs per match.
She also had a career-high in digs this year with 38 against Union.
Rupert earned National Defender of the Week in the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics after a contest against the University of Virginia’s College at Wise.
She is also the national leader in digs per set (7.2) and is fourth nationally in total digs (468) while playing 10 less sets than the rest of the top 10.
She has already won AAC Defender of the Week five times this season and seven times in her career for the Lady Buffaloes.
“We’re really all on the same page,” Rupert said. “We play with so much heart. It doesn’t matter if we’re down in a game. We have no doubts and we all have the same goal in mind. We’re willing to do whatever it takes to get there.”
Rupert is also a nursing major who spends almost 10 hours of her day in the hospital shadowing nurses and doing whatever is necessary for the patients.
“It is difficult being a nursing major and trying to play volleyball,” she said. “But if you love it, you’ll find a way to make it work. Volleyball is an escape for me. When I’m out there, I feel like I’m in a different world and I’m just focused on playing volleyball.”
Rupert comes to practice most days in her scrubs. She also has to play “mom” a lot because she’s the only senior, but she says that it’s exciting getting to play with new people and new players every year.
“I’ve really enjoyed it,” she said. “When I came in, I was the only freshman in my recruiting class, so I’m kind of used to always being the only one my age. I’m used to having to make new friends and playing with new people, but that’s fine with me because we have a great group of girls that came in. It’s been great to take them under my wing and play ‘mom.’ ”
The team has won three straight heading into a long homestand beginning Friday with Columbia International and concluding next Friday against Bryan. Every match is critical, with only a meeting against Emory & Henry that isn’t a conference game. In total, there are five matches that could help determine the fate of the Lady Buffs’ postseason hopes.
“I feel like it has been God that has helped me have this good year. He’s given me the ability to go out there. This is my last year and when I go out there, it doesn’t matter if I’m having a good or bad game, I leave everything I have out there on the court.
“I always try to tell my teammates that, too. I tell them that if they can’t do anything else, leave everything out there. I always try to play with that mentality,” she said.