Sisters Compete Against Each Other


Courtesy of Zoe Kuzbari

Zoe and Téa Kuzbari smile for a photo taken by their mom at the Haverford vs. Oberlin game.

This past weekend, the volleyball team hosted the Oberlin Invitational Tournament in Philips gym. The teams participating included John Carroll University, Chatham University, and Haverford College — where my younger sister Téa attends and also plays volleyball. The Oberlin vs. Haverford game marked the first time my sister and I have ever played competitive volleyball against each other; her team won.

When I was younger, I was a competitive figure skater, but the sport grew extremely isolating. I knew I wanted to experience playing a team sport in high school, so I started playing volleyball when I was 15. My sister took up the sport shortly after I did.

Every older sister knows what it feels like to have their younger sister “copy” them. This was something I would complain about constantly. I was always annoyed at how everything I did, she did, or how everything I wore, she wore. But as I’ve grown up, I’ve learned to appreciate the things we have in common — even the fact that we look so alike. In fact, people often think we’re twins, although I’m three years older.

After a year of playing, we joined the same volleyball club in New York City and traveled to all the same tournaments. I watched every game of hers that I could. She got really good, really fast. Soon, she was able to play on my team, and we would practice together often. It was nice to have someone who I could always pass the ball with, even at home. Eventually, she became even better than me.

Any older sibling knows how hard that can be to admit. Younger me would have been embarrassed to confess that my little sister was better at anything than me, but it’s so special seeing your sibling surpass you at something. I know just how hard she’s worked to get to where she is because I had to work that hard too, and I am unbelievably proud of her for getting to where she is.

Some of my other teammates have had a similar experience. Second-year Natalie Dufour also has a younger sister who plays volleyball. “My sister Sophie is three years younger than me and has played volleyball since she was six,” Dufour said. “I was busy with ballet and basketball, and volleyball wasn’t my thing when I was younger. Freshman year of high school I started playing too, and my sister instantly became my coach and always told me everything I was doing wrong. It’s made me so much better.”

Dufour admits that her sister is better than her at the sport, and she loves being able to say that. She said that volleyball is Sophie’s life and that she’s never met someone so dedicated.

“I am incredibly proud of her commitment to volleyball,” Dufour said. “She’s put in more work than anyone else I know and keeps getting better every day. Her hard work is paying off — she’s probably going to play Division I. I love seeing her do so well and am so proud of her.”

Third-year setter Taylor Gwynne also has a younger sister who just started her first year at Kenyon College and is playing volleyball there.

“I think Becca’s always been better than me,” Gwynne said. “We play different positions on the court, but I can always count on the fact that she’ll outhustle me.”

Gwynne is unbelievably proud to be Becca’s older sister. She said that she can always count on her sister to push her further than she thinks she can go.

“I’m super proud of how positive and caring Becca is,” Gwynne said. “She always puts others before herself, and I learn from her every day how I can be kinder to my teammates and to myself.”

When I asked my sister to reflect on this weekend, it was heartwarming to be reminded that I introduced her to a sport that she loves so much.

“I really enjoyed being able to play against you during your senior season,” she said. “The whole reason I started playing volleyball is because of you. I remember watching you play as a kid and seeing the joy it brought to your life, and I wanted to be just like my big sister and follow in your footsteps. I’m so happy that we shared the love of the same sport. I really wish we could play each other again.”

Playing against my sister this weekend and getting to see her on the court sparked a new level of my pride in her. This was the first time I’ve seen her play in person in three years and the first opportunity I’ve had to watch her play collegiate volleyball. Especially now, as I wrap up my last collegiate season of volleyball knowing that November will probably be the last time I play the sport, it’s so exciting to think that I still have two more years to watch her compete, get better, and grow. I’m incredibly proud of her and the person she’s becoming.