Erin Fairs adds skill and leadership to outside attack

By on September 23, 2015

For Anne Kordes’ volleyball team, heading into this second season of ACC play has a certain buzz, and a certain expectation of success. Much of this was made reasonable with the addition of transfer, senior outside hitter Erin Fairs. Fairs, while having only played in eight matches as a Louisville Cardinal, is putting up critical numbers and making key contributions that are dictating the Cardinals’ success.

Through her first nine matches, Fairs leads Louisville 6-3 in kills with 139. Her timely ability to smack the ball down with lethal authority—as well as her savvy veteran presence—has coaches, teammates and fans alike excited about Fairs’ arrival.

But for Fairs, this new beginning is toward the end of her dynamic and successful college career. A transfer from the University of Southern Florida, Fairs has known Louisville since her college career began.

As a freshman in 2012-13, Fairs was Big East Freshman of the Year. That same year Louisville’s Lola Arslanbekova won Big East Player of the Year and her Cardinals went 30-4. During Fairs’ sophomore year at USF, she was the AAC Player of the Year.

That same year Louisville’s outside hitter Maya McClendon won AAC Freshman of the Year on Louisville’s way to a 23-8 record and sweeping the AAC with a 16-0 conference record. In those two years as conference foes, Fairs went 0-3 in hard fought losses to Louisville.

Last year, as Louisville moved into the ACC, Fairs moved into USF’s top ten career rankings in both kills and digs. Named first team all-AAC she decided to transfer and ended up fitting right in at Louisville.

“It’s different being on the upper-half of things now,” Fairs said with a smile.

The native of Richmond, Texas is finally settled and done playing catch-up in a game that she started playing much later than most of her cohorts.

“The first time I ever played in school volleyball was the seventh grade. It was kind of just a thing to do until basketball and track season started. I was interested but I didn’t think I was going to like it as much as I do,” Fairs said. “I am definitely a late bloomer. A lot of girls started in club around the sixth grade. I didn’t start club until I was about 15. I just wish I would have started earlier.”

Despite the fact that her first collegiate offers would end up being in her first two sports, Fairs grew to love volleyball and the natural athlete committed to learning a whole new skill set.

“Not that I was burnt out with basketball and track but it was just something new and I was really excited to learn more about it. Once I started playing I just ended up falling in love with it and playing it more and more. But when I started I was awful. My first year in seventh grade I was on B-team as a setter, not even close to wear I am now,” she said jokingly.

Because of her late start, Fairs wasn’t as highly recruited as her talent allowed for. Coming out of high school she was a middle blocker and didn’t pick up the outside hitter skill set until she got to USF. At USF she was a conference star and the team’s staple. In her three years she racked up over 1,200 kills and over 1,300 digs.

Finishing eighth and fourth on USF’s career kills and digs list, respectively. But now with a chance to play in a power conference as one of the key members of a deep, veteran and talented Louisville squad, Fairs is peaking. She has had double-digit kill performances in seven of the eight games played and two 20-plus-kill performances.

Nine games into Louisville’s 30 game regular season Fairs has 139 kills. Last year as a junior at USF, Fairs tallied her career high of 489 kills in a 32 game regular season.

She is also depended on down the stretch in the must need situations to win.

“I really like the role, you have got to stay calm. In certain situations people count on you, so of course you don’t want to disappoint anyone. Just giving your all,” she said. “As a senior, its just that you are never going to get this back. So me, Katie (George) and Roxanne (McVey) are just going to give it our all in every single game,” Fairs said. “We know how important each win is, and I think when you are younger or you don’t have as much of a role you don’t know quite as much. You have to be put in a position to know exactly how much you need to give to the team.”

“In the ACC, all these teams are good. You have to show up to every single game. I just think that there is no doubt that we can win the ACC. I think of course we can win the National Championship, but our thing is we just want to go as far as we possibly can.”

Despite her current success, Fairs is continuing to grow and adapt to the consistent strength in competition.

“She’s been great. For her personally she took this leap to come try and play at a higher level. I told her before she came, ‘Well you are going to get it because this is what our schedule looks like next year,’” Head Coach Anne Kordes said.

Two of the Cardinals’ three losses are to top 25 ranked teams.

“She actually struggled heavily against Illinois, and she can’t get shocked that the blocks are going to be on her and it’s going to happen. That’s another reason honestly why I’m so glad to start off with such a heavy schedule because I need her to see that. There are not going to be too many teams in the ACC that are not going to try and put a double block up against her.”

“But she’s unreal, hard to stop.” For as excited as everyone is about Fairs finding a new home in Louisville, there is still one draw back for the Southern gal.

“It wasn’t on my radar at first because I was trying not to go anywhere cold. I hate the cold with a passion,” Fairs smilingly and honestly explains. “I tried and I tried, but eventually I thought the better fit was for me just to go to Louisville. Unfortunately, my fit is somewhere that it’s cold.”

Photo by Wade Morgen / The Louisville Cardinal

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