Natalie Montini

For four years, senior Natalie Montini has dedicated her heart and soul to the volleyball program at East Carolina University, and because of her love for the game, she wants to take the next step in her career playing overseas.

For four years, senior Natalie Montini has dedicated her heart and soul to the volleyball program at East Carolina University, and because of her love for the game, she wants to take the next step in her career playing overseas after signing with professional agent Joost Kooistra.

Since there is no professional volleyball league in the United States, Montini will pursue her professional career in Europe and said she loves the idea of potentially playing in the Switzerland league.

“I have known Natalie since she was 16 and I am just so proud of her,” head volleyball coach Julie Torbett said. “To watch her develop, improve and be the tremendous volleyball player that she is is such a great feeling as a coach.”

Montini was introduced to Kooistra during her 2016 season by former assistant coach Ladislav Lelkes. Kooistra is the same one that represented former ECU volleyball and basketball player I’Tiana Taylor, helping her sign with the Sharjah Ladies Club in Dubai last season.

Over the span of the last year, Montini kept in contact with the agent, learning what she needs to do and what the process of becoming a professional is like. After finishing her collegiate career, she finally became eligible to go pro, and Kooistra agreed to represent her.

According to Montini, she is more than grateful for this opportunity, considering she never thought going pro would be a possibility for her. However, she says she is more thankful for her parents and teammates, believing they are the reason for this exciting new chapter in her life.

“I’m just so excited for the opportunity. I know it’s kind of cliche but I have to thank my parents,” Montini said. “They have been with me since the beginning, taking me to practices and lessons, so their time, support and love has been a huge part of it. As for my teammates, those girls are my sisters. We have been with each other 24/7 over the past four years and they are always there when you need them.”

For anyone who’s followed ECU’s volleyball team over the past four years, it’s clear just how skilled Montini is. She finished her ECU career with 921 kills, 2.62 per set, 1,130 points on 2.70 per set and 196 digs. In her final season, Montini was named first-team all-conference, posting 60 digs, career highs in points (399.5), kills (325) and hitting percentage (34), good for third in the American Athletic Conference.

Torbett and Montini have had a unique relationship over the past six years, with Torbett meeting Montini in a club she ran in Asheville, North Carolina, in 2012. Their paths crossed again when Torbett got the head coaching job at ECU in 2013 and Montini joined the program the following year.

Torbett said it has been a privilege coaching a player like Montini, whose love for the game not only made a positive impact on her team, but on the winning culture ECU’s volleyball team established.

“She’s just a player that exudes joy when she’s playing and that’s very contagious to the team,” Torbett said. “Anyone who watched her play and doesn’t know anything about volleyball knows she stood out from the other players because of her genuine enthusiasm about the game.”

But, Montini knows her volleyball career won’t last forever, and believes that one day she’ll get to do what she came to ECU for, working with special needs kids in a therapeutic position.

“If volleyball doesn’t workout I want to become a physical therapist,” Montini said. “I want to work with special needs kids, so I would probably take a year off and go back to school. I just think God has a plan for everyone and it can go in many different directions, so I’ll just wait and see what happens.”

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