NOLA DUNCAN - Soaring High in Volleyball's Skyline From Late Starter to Varsity Sensation

In the vibrant and competitive world of high school volleyball, a rising star is making waves with her remarkable versatility and unwavering commitment to the game. Nola Duncan, a towering 6' 1" sophomore from West Orange High School in New Jersey, embodies the very essence of "Grit and Grace," a narrative celebrated by esteemed sports journalist Kate Brennan. Nola's journey from a passionate newcomer to a leading figure on her varsity team is a testament to her rapid growth, resilience, and the joy she finds in every challenge the sport presents.

A Late Bloomer Ignites Her Passion

Nola's volleyball journey began somewhat later than many of her peers, picking up the game in the summer before her 8th-grade year. Yet, what she lacked in early start, she made up for with an immediate and deep love for the sport. Joining Eclipse Volleyball Performance Club that fall was a pivotal moment, marking the start of an ascendant trajectory in volleyball that would soon see her leap from club play to the high-stakes environment of varsity volleyball.

Varsity - Her Sophomore Rise

The transition from the freshman team to becoming a starting middle blocker on the varsity team before the season even began is a remarkable feat, underscoring Nola's natural talent and work ethic. Her freshman year accolades, including leading her team in blocks and being named the #19 freshman in the state, set a high bar. Yet, Nola's sophomore year saw her embracing a new challenge—transitioning to the outside hitter position. This move showcased her adaptability and eagerness to grow, culminating in her leading the team in kills, securing the offensive player of the year, and contributing significantly to her team's division championship.

Embracing The Challenge

Nola's decision to play both middle blocker and outside hitter positions speaks volumes about her determination to be a versatile and invaluable asset to her team. Playing in the 18u team at only 14, and again making the 18u National Team, highlights not just her skill but her maturity and ability to handle pressure. These experiences, while challenging, are shaping Nola into a formidable all-around player, capable of making significant impacts in multiple facets of the game.


Nola's performance at the EXACT Volleyball National Showcase Camp in New York caught the attention of top NCAA and NAIA college coaches who were instructing the players at camp. Each player received a 1:1 performance evaluation and Nora's was nothing short of exceptional. She was hand selected out of a group of top players in the region as being identified for the best high school girls volleyball athletes in the nation

She was ranked alongside all of the top players from the 2023 EXACT Sports volleyball camp season. EXACT has the largest national network of college coaches including NCAA D1, D3, D3 and NAIA programs. EXACT Rankings TOP 100 is fully endorsed by EXACT's network of college coaches. 

Leadership + Aspirations Beyond High School

With every game, Nola's goal remains clear: to refine her technical skills, become a stronger leader on the court, and ultimately, to be the best all-around player she can be. Her leadership aspirations extend beyond mere performance, aiming to inspire her teammates through positive energy, resilience, and a shared commitment to excellence.

As Nola looks toward the future, her ambitions are as towering as her presence on the court. With an interest in majoring in Forensic Science and playing volleyball at the collegiate level, her potential destinations are as diverse and impressive as her volleyball accolades. From Temple University to the University of Maryland, USC to Villanova, Nola's options are wide open, mirroring the expansive trajectory of her budding volleyball career.

Nola Duncan's story is more than just a tally of achievements and accolades; it's about the journey of a young athlete navigating the complexities of growth, challenge, and self-discovery through sports. Her story embodies the essence of "Grit and Grace," showcasing not only the physical demands of volleyball but the mental resilience and joyful passion required to excel.

As Nola continues to dominate the volleyball courts of New Jersey and beyond, her story stands as an inspiration to young athletes everywhere. It serves as a reminder that with dedication, versatility, and a love for the game, the path from a late start to the pinnacle of high school volleyball success is not just possible but immensely rewarding. Nola Duncan's journey is a beacon for the future of women's volleyball, fueled by the next generation of stars who play with both determination and joy, shaping the legacy of the sport for years to come.