April 7, 2021

After Wrapping Up Stuart Hoops Career, Fair Making Impact for Tartans Volleyball

NET GAIN: Stuart Country Day School volleyball player Laila Fair makes a play at the net in recent action. After wrapping up a stellar hoops career for the Tartans in early March, Fair has been making an impact for the volleyball squad as the season was moved to the spring from the fall due to COVID-19 concerns. Stuart, now 5-1, is playing at Colonia High on April 7 before hosting Delaware Valley on April 9 and Princeton Day School on April 12. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

In early March, Laila Fair wrapped up a stellar career for the Stuart Country Day School basketball program, starring at forward as the squad went 7-6 against a gauntlet of tough foes.

In previous seasons, Fair, who is headed to St. Joseph’s where she will be playing for its Division I women’s hoops squad, would be back in the gym over the spring honing her game.

But this March, with the New Jersey high school volleyball season moved to the spring from the fall due to COVID-19 concerns, Fair is taking advantage of the chance to take her talents to another court, starting for the Tartan volleyball team.

The 6’1 Fair has emerged as a towering figure for Stuart, using her height and athleticism to dominate at the net.

Last week, she piled up five kills, two blocks, three digs, one assist, and three service points to help the Tartans defeat Princeton Day School 2-0 (25-19, 25-16). Senior Shirley Xie played a key role in the win over the Panthers, with one kill, 12 digs, six assists, and three service points.

Fair, who first played volleyball for Stuart in the fall of 2019, is enjoying her final campaign in the sport.

“This is my second year playing volleyball, I wouldn’t say it is a hard transition,” said Fair.

Utilizing her basketball skills has helped Fair on the volleyball court.

“The main things that I find easy now is defense, I am able to slide faster,” said Fair.

“Being able to sprint in such a short amount of time in basketball, going from jogging to sprinting helps in this too. You are going from sprinting to get to the ball. Playing at the net, some of my arm strength has transferred over to this. I am good at the serving but sometimes it is short when I hit too hard.”

The presence of Fair’s basketball teammates Nia Melvin, Aleah James, and Jasmine Lewis has helped make Stuart a stronger team. In the win over PDS, senior Melvin had a kill, six digs, and seven service points while senior James had nine digs and eight service points and senior Lewis contributed one dig, one assist, and one service point.

“We are getting better at pass setting and hitting and those are definitely our goals for every single game as it should be,” said Fair, reflecting on the win over the Panthers. “I think our offense in this game, the hitting and stuff, was pretty strong.”

With Stuart playing at Colonia High on April 7 before hosting Delaware Valley on April 9 and Princeton Day School on April 12, Fair is looking for the Tartans to play stronger throughout matches.

“We usually start off slow and then we get faster as we go,” said Fair, who contributed four kills, eight blocks, five digs and 11 service points to help Stuart defeat Hopewell Valley 2-0 (25-9, 25-22) last Thursday and improve to 5-1.

“We definitely want to focus on starting fast right off the bat rather than having a slow buildup.”