On Oct. 21, 2016, the Binghamton volleyball team squared off with the Great Danes at the University Gymnasium in Albany, New York. During this highly anticipated match, BU found itself up by two sets with a chance to put away the series and stun the host.
With Binghamton one point away from earning the sweep, an unlikely hero delivered the final tally to shock Albany. That hero, then-junior setter Sarah Ngo, cashed in on a set from then-sophomore outside hitter Gaby Alicea and delivered a kill that she would never forget.
“The last point of that one was really memorable because I am not a hitter, obviously, I am a setter, so I’ve never been the greatest hitter,” Ngo said. “But the last point of that match when we took the whole thing, I jumped up and hit the ball and hit this girl right in the shoulder/face area and it was a great feeling that we just swept Albany.”
Even though Ngo considers that play and that match as one of her fondest memories of the sport, her decision to play Division I volleyball was not one made with absolute certainty. Despite being introduced to the sport at the age of seven and playing on numerous teams prior to Binghamton, Ngo was hesitant to commit to playing collegiate volleyball.
“Fun fact, I actually originally did not want to play college volleyball,” Ngo said. “I didn’t want to play the sport, I didn’t even want to go to college. So I have a kind of crazy story of how I went from that time to being recruited and deciding to actually go that route and then where I am today.”
That “crazy story” concerns a decision between Binghamton volleyball and her passion for singing and songwriting. Ultimately, she decided in favor of Division I volleyball, but her love for the arts and her passion for music are still strong today. Ngo appeared to consider her choice as simply delaying the pursuit of her passion, not by any means abandoning her dream.
“It just goes to show that plans that we have for ourselves don’t always work out, they’re not always what’s meant to be,” Ngo said. “We just got to roll with the punches.”
Although Ngo initially displayed signs of reluctance when it came to volleyball and BU, she has undeniably excelled both on and off the court. She has been a major contributor to the team’s success, as she has already posted 422 assists and 151 digs in this season alone.
“She’s a very experienced player now … the setter is like the quarterback of the team, so she’s always involved on the court, off the court with everything they do,” said BU head coach Glenn Kiriyama. “She works hard in practice, goes after it and has a high engine on the court.”
In her final season as a Bearcat, Ngo is still searching for her first America East title. She hopes to improve as a leader alongside senior middle hitter and best friend Lexi LaGoy, and propel BU to a championship in November.
“My goal as a player is to just be the best individually that I can so that I can contribute to the team, whether that is being better at defense, being more consistent at setting or putting up a good block for my defenders in the back row,” Ngo said. “As a person, I am really trying to work on being a solid rock on the court, steady, really good leader especially for the underclassmen coming in as well as the rest of the team.”
Ngo values her role as a captain because it offers the opportunity to implement solid leadership while directing both sides of the ball. She seeks to guide her teammates by setting a positive example and helping the team reach its peak potential.
“She’s the kind that’ll put her arm around you and want to know how you’re doing and things like that, willing to help out in any way possible for the good of the team,” Kiriyama said. “She does well in all aspects of her life.”
After majoring in business with a concentration in marketing as an undergraduate, she decided to graduate a year early and enroll in a fast-track MBA program through the School of Management. Following graduation, Ngo intends to take at least one year off to work on her singing and songwriting in addition to marrying her fiance next July.