Covelli Center earns high marks from sophomore

Ray Stein,Ray Stein
Gameday+ Meet a Buckeye with Mia Grunze of the women's volleyball team on October 29, 2019. [Kyle Robertson/Dispatch]

Mia Grunze

Sport: Women’s volleyball

Age: 19

Year: Sophomore

Hometown: Waterford, Wis.

Major: Exploration

Question: You’re the first person we’ve interviewed in this space who plays in the new Covelli Center. I suspect I know the answer to this, but on a scale of 1 to 10, how are the new digs?

Answer: A 10, for sure. Everything we have access to there is amazing. The locker room and film room are better than we could have imagined. We all love the feel of the gym and the new floor. Personally, the air conditioning is a huge plus for me.

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Q: What has the atmosphere been like during games?

A: Covelli holds fewer people than St. John Arena did, so the gym has a more-full feel on game day. The cool lights and video boards definitely hype us up before the game, as well.

Q: What has been the most fun moment yet?

A: Definitely the first sold-out crowd versus Michigan. The whole crowd actually had glow sticks, and I had no idea at the time. When the lights turned off and the glow sticks were on, it was one of the most chilling moments I’ve ever experienced.

Q: How significant are the changes in the underbelly of the arena — the training facilities, dining, etc.?

A: There are a lot of changes many people wouldn’t even think about. One of the most significant is the location. Being a short walk from the Schumaker Complex makes getting to lift convenient, easy and fast. Another thing that gets overlooked is the fingerprint entry system. We used to have to go let people in if they forgot their BuckID, but now we don’t have to worry about that. And the sound systems in the gym and locker room are definitely among my top three favorite things.

Q: I saw a video of players on a training table with what looked to be leg compressors filled with air. What are those for and how do they work?

A: Those are called NormaTecs. They fill with air and compress your legs to help with recovery. We travel with them, as well. On the new training tables in the Covelli, we now have the ability to elevate our legs while doing it.

Q: Do you or your teammates ever miss St. John?

A: Not too much, because of all of the great things Covelli has to offer. Some of us have talked about how fun it would be to do a throwback game in St. John at some point. Many of us have great memories in St. John and know how important it is to Ohio State volleyball.

Q: What is the most intimidating venue in the Big Ten?

A: For me it’s Wisconsin because that’s where I grew up. I watched tons of matches in that gym when I was a kid, so having the opportunity to play there was surreal. Nebraska is known for its sold-out crowds of 8,000-plus with a crazy atmosphere. Gyms like these make me more excited than intimidated, though. The more intimidating the place, the more fun it is to play there.

Q: How much of your game is based on power?

A: Power is important, but it is not everything. Having the ability to see the open shots, combined with the ability to hit those shots with some pop on the ball, is important. If someone hits the ball straight on as hard as they can, that’s when you see blocks and errors. But if I see the shot, I’m definitely going to go for it.

Q: Are you much of a dinker? Does that style work for you at the net?

A: At the end of the day you want to score as many points as possible. Don’t get me wrong, it’s more fun to pound the ball straight down for a kill than tip for a kill, but a point is a point. It all goes back to eyes and what you see on the court as well as scouting the team before the match to see where you can be most effective.

Q: Have you ever been hit in the face by an opponent’s spike at the net? Is there anywhere you get hit that’s more painful?

A: I definitely have been hit in the face multiple times when going up to block. If your hands are neutral on defense or positioned correctly, the chances that it will happen lower. I’d say getting hit in the nose is the worst spot to get hit.

Q: You have two sisters, Mikaela and Mariah; what are their ages, what do they do, and how close are you to them? Are they tall like you?

A: Mikaela is 21 and Mariah is 17. Mikaela goes to school at Carthage College in Wisconsin. Mariah is in high school. They are my absolute best friends and I don’t know what I would do without them. We are all pretty tall, but I’m the tallest (6 feet 3). Mariah is around 6 feet and Mikaela is around 5-10.

Q: Your hometown of Waterford is about 30 miles southwest of Milwaukee; did you grow up a fan of pro sports teams or college teams?

A: I grew up a big Brewers, Packers and Bucks fan. And though I hate to say it, I grew up a Badgers fan, as well. My family went to a lot of games growing up.

Q: Please rank these teams in order of your preference: Brewers, Bucks, Packers.

A: 1. Bucks; 2. Packers; 3. Brewers. I think I would have answered this question differently a few years ago, but recently the Bucks have been my favorite team by far. I just love watching their games.

Q: Who is your favorite athlete in team sports?

A: Giannis Antetokounmpo, hands down. Next question.

Q: What is one thing about Wisconsin that you miss the most here in Ohio?

A: Noodles & Company mac and cheese. I never realized how good it was at home until I got here and tried it. I’m convinced it’s the cheese. I know that sounds cliché, but it’s true.

Q: And what Wisconsin thing have you brought to Ohio and introduced to your teammates?

A: The word bubbler, for sure. No one here knew what it was before I got here, and people still make fun of me when I use it.

Q: Quick-hitter finish: Are you a dog person or a cat person?

A: Dog, for sure. They’re just cuter. Cats annoy me, and I feel like they bite me more often.

Q: What’s the best snack food ever?

A: Acai bowls.

Q: What’s your favorite TV comedy?

A: “The Office.”

Q: Would you rather ace a final exam or win a dance battle?

A: Dance battle. Who wouldn't want to win one?


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