Gators volleyball player fulfills her dream in the U.S

SF State senior setter Linda Aerne (6) gets ready for a set during the Gators’ game against the Cal State Monterey Bay Otters on Saturday, Oct. 22, 2016. Originally a native of Zurich, Switzerland, Aerne moved to the U.S. to pursue her passion for volleyball.

A big smile immediately spread across setter Linda Aerne’s face when asked about her love for volleyball. Passion for the sport ultimately encouraged Aerne to travel independently from Zurich, Switzerland to the United States in pursuit of expanding her volleyball career.

Since Aerne’s arrival at the University in 2015, her game has progressed significantly. In her first season with the Gators, she competed in 13 matches and averaged 5.76 assists per set, which was second on the team. This season Aerne has started every match. She currently leads the team in assists per set and ranks tenth in the California Collegiate Athletic Association with 7.24.

The Gators most prolific scorer, outside hitter Christine Johnson has nothing but high praise for her teammate Aerne.

“Being a setter on the court is vital to our team and she has step up in that role and as a leader,” Johnson said. “She might not be the loudest person on the court but she leads the loudest through her motion.”

Head coach Matt Hoffman agreed with Johnson’s comments on her teammate. He describes Aerne as someone who leads by example.

“She keeps the temperament of the team in a good place,” Hoffman said. “She has done a good job of running our offense and her maturity is what I enjoy most about coaching her. Also she responds well to criticisms and feedbacks.”

Aerne said her inspiration for volleyball began ten years ago when she was in Switzerland.

“There was a club team in my village that started a volleyball program and my friends asked me to attend. I went to one practice and I just fell in love with the sport. I have been playing since,” Aerne said.

Aerne decided to take her talents to the U.S when she was 18 years old after scouts from the U.S in Switzerland that spoke to her about moving here to play volleyball and get an education at the same time.

“The primary reason I left to the U.S is to play volleyball,” Aerne said. “In Switzerland, you work, go to school or play volleyball, there’s no free time. Here in the U.S you get to combine it and it’s a lot better organized for student athletes.”

Before transferring to SF State, she played her first two years of volleyball in the U.S at Indian River College in Fort Pierce, Florida. Aerne said her commitment to SF State was based on the desire to live in the city and the comfort she felt when she visited the team.

“I checked out different colleges in California after Florida and I really like SF State,” Aerne said. “I had a really good recruiting trip. I like the team, facility and of course the city has always inspired me.”

Although the Gators are experiencing a lackluster season, Aerne enjoys being surrounded by her teammates and remains grateful for the opportunity to represent SF State.

“I really like that we all get along. There’s no tension between one another, we all try to work together as much as possible so that really drives me to come to work everyday with people I like,” Aerne said.

Aerne is in her second and final season with the Gators, which means her career with the team is approaching its end. She will be honored on senior night, Nov 4., and her last game in a Gators uniform will be on Nov. 12 against Cal State San Bernardino.

“After SF State I planned to find an internship and then move back to Switzerland once I complete that,” Aerne said. “I still plan to continue playing volleyball when I move back home. I’ll probably join a club team or a league that I can find because I can’t really think about not playing anymore.”