Sideline to Standout: Alyssa Ruan’s Rise

Alyssa Ruan was cut from her middle school volleyball team in the sixth grade.

The current Quincy High School senior was attending Central Middle School down the street at the time and was convinced by her friend Alyssa Ryan to try out for volleyball.

“I showed up to tryouts and gave it all I got. I left with plenty of anxiety because we wouldn’t figure out the first round of cuts until we went to school the next day,” recalled Ruan. “I immediately walked into the gym and saw that I had been cut during the first round of tryouts.”

The next year she transferred to Broad Meadows, made their volleyball team, and won the City Championship her seventh and eighth grade years. One of the teams she beat along the way to back-to-back titles was the team that cut her.

After graduating from Broad Meadows, she joined the Mass Patriots Volleyball Club and moved on to Quincy High where she became a three-time Patriot League All-Star.

“It was amazing seeing Alyssa go from getting cut from the middle school team to being named a Patriot League All-Star for the third year in a row,” said Ryan, now also a senior at Quincy. “She has been such an inspiration to my teammates and I since the beginning, always pushing herself and giving her all.”

Before entering her freshman year at Quincy, Ruan was an outside hitter. But after being invited to a summer varsity clinic by Presidents girls volleyball coach Jacqui Niosi, things changed. The players at the clinic were divided into groups based on their positions. Once Niosi saw Ruan with the outside hitters, she noticed how small she was and had her try out defense instead.

A few months later after joining the volleyball team as a freshman, the President’s starting libero got injured. Then entered Ruan, who never gave up the libero position after that moment and played her final high school game in that spot when she and her teammates won the Patriot Cup this year on Nov. 20 over Duxbury. Both teams came in undefeated on the season, but one walked out with a trophy and a libero who recorded a game-high 39 digs.

Just before the title game, Ruan was named the Patriot League Fisher Division MVP and co-MVP of the entire League. The standout on defense put together 218 digs that put her career total at 975. She also had 141 aces in her career, something Coach Niosi praised.

“She’s got this intensity about her when she plays defense. When the ball’s going at her you’re like, ‘oh yes.’ Because you know she’s gonna make a good play,” Niosi said. “She just hustles and is all over the place. She makes these plays where the ball looks like it’s gonna hit the ground and she comes out of nowhere and makes a play on it. She’s got a natural talent for defense.”

One of those plays came two years ago against rival North Quincy when an outside hitter for the Raiders got a hit that went to the left back. One of the Presidents touched the ball, but it was heading towards the bleachers.

“I don’t know what got into me, but I ran for that ball as fast as I could and dove for it. To my surprise, I got a touch and was able to put it back to my teammates on the court,” Ruan said. “When I got a touch on that ball, everybody in the gym jumped up in excitement and was screaming which just created an incredible atmosphere which helped us eventually win the game 3-2.”

“It always brought a sense of relief knowing Alyssa was ready to receive in the back row and play lights out defense as she always does. She always had our backs because we knew we could count on her to pass up anything and get right back up, ready to attack and cheer on the team,” Ryan said. “It’s been so fun playing with Alyssa and this team and she is such an inspiration to us.”

And now, the senior who spins the ball in her left hand and then brings her right foot behind her left before tapping the ball on the ground twice ahead of serving, is committed to continue playing volleyball at UMass Boston next fall.

Not bad for a former outside hitter who got cut from her middle school team.

“I’m sure other teams are like, ‘thank goodness she’s finally gone,’” Niosi said while laughing.

“She is such an amazing player and person and I know she has such a bright future ahead of her,” Ryan said.

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