But she never stopped loving it.
Coach Sylvia Hatchell reached out to the seniors on the volleyball team to see if anyone had experience or interest in basketball. Her own athletes couldn’t make every practice, so Hatchell sought more players in order to have more five-on-five scrimmages during practice.
Interested, Neuenfeldt brought up the idea with some equipment managers. Word traveled fast to the basketball coaches.
Hatchell said she had watched Neuenfeldt play volleyball and was impressed by her reach and her leadership. She said a tremendous athlete like Neuenfeldt would be a valuable asset to a team that needed depth.
After watching Neuenfeldt play for three days a week ago, Hatchell decided to take her as a walk-on.
Neuenfeldt’s first official practice with the team was on Wednesday — the day before her first game.
"(I) ran through a lot of plays and was kind of just soaking it all in," she said. "I feel like a little bit of a lost puppy out there, but it’s kind of fun though getting to go out and play a sport I used to play in high school.”
Already, she has made an impact on the team.
“She’s really positive and she keeps us up,” said junior forward Hillary Summers. “Like whenever she’s on the bench, she’s always talking to us and everything and that really helps — like the little things.”
Neuenfeldt said she found her volleyball experience to be useful already. In high school, she found success in leaping for rebounds and blocking inbounds plays.
Using that same reach that propelled her to the most total blocks in UNC volleyball history, Neuenfeldt interrupted the Pittsburgh offense with a deflected pass. As her opponent began a pass, she stretched out her right hand and stalled the ball with her fingertips. The Panthers recovered the ball, but Neuenfeldt’s deflection served as a promise of what could come.
“I like her,” said first-year guard Destinee Walker. “She has a really, like, upbeat personality. And she only played one minute tonight and she already had a deflection. So I think she’s going to help us out a lot.”
Hatchell was also optimistic about Neuenfeldt’s future with the team.
“She’s rusty but she’s got skills ...” Hatchell said. "All volleyball players, they have great timing on the blocks ‘cause they were spikers, you know they’re great, have great timing.
"So I wish we had had her the whole season.”