The Daily Tar Heel
Printing news. Raising hell. Since 1893.
Wednesday, Sept. 27, 2023 Newsletters Latest print issue

We keep you informed.

Help us keep going. Donate Today.
The Daily Tar Heel

Childhood friends Bostic and Shaffmaster reunite on UNC volleyball team

Mabrey Shaffmaster, Ella Bostic 2022 portrait University of North Carolina Volleyball Media & Communications Center Chapel Hill, NC Sunday, August 14, 2022

First-year setter Ella Bostic and sophomore outside hitter Mabrey Shaffmaster were already very familiar with each other before joining the UNC volleyball squad.

With their hometowns of Carmel and New Castle, Indiana separated by only an hour, Bostic and Shaffmaster’s relationship goes back to the ages of nine and ten when the two spent time together at their sisters' volleyball tournaments.

Now, their long-term friendship has shifted landscapes to Chapel Hill, allowing Bostic and Shaffmaster to reconnect both on and off the court. During informal practices over the summer, both players had the chance to regain their dynamic with each other and their teammates.

“It was nice knowing that I had someone on the court that I was close with and who was just as competitive as me, and I could rely on her to give me a good ball,” Shaffmaster said.  

Both athletes played for Munciana Volleyball Club in Yorktown, Indiana following in the footsteps of their sisters. Bonnie Bostic and Melani Shaffmaster now play volleyball at Yale and Minnesota respectively.

Ella Bostic and Mabrey Shaffmaster both said Munciana was a high-pressure, competitive environment and that the transition to UNC has been easier with a familiar face. 

“It’s nice to have someone here that knows what it’s like to play at Munciana,” Bostic said. “It’s definitely a very intense and different environment.”

Led by Coach Mike Lingenfelter, the duo helped lead the Munciana Samurai to the 2021 18-Open AAU National Championship. Shaffmaster was also named the MVP of the tournament.

“It was definitely nice to be able to rely on Mabrey as an outside hitter,” Bostic said. “I always knew that she had my back and she would make it happen.” 

Shaffmaster came to UNC shortly after the championship and in her first year, racked up accolades including ACC Freshman of the Year, ACC All-Freshman Team and All-ACC Academic Team.

“All of last year I really followed her journey,” Bostic said. “I really just felt so happy for her because I had seen how hard she worked all the years leading up to this.”

With Shaffmaster leading the team with 239 kills and Bostic earning 122 assists so far this season, it is evident the players are feeding off each other for success.

“They come from a place where they both value being great teammates, high-level volleyball, and academics,” UNC head coach Joe Sagula said. “They really have a lot of similar goals.”

Shaffmaster and Bostic's chemistry also comes from their current relationship off the court. Starbucks and dinner trips together are frequent, as well as impromptu grocery store runs.

“It made me feel more comfortable coming in knowing Mabrey, and just having her to hang out with and answer any of my questions when I got here,” Bostic said.

Looking forward to the rest of the season, Sagula has high hopes for the duo's performance on the court given their long-lasting connection.

“In volleyball, the relationship between the setter and the hitters is very important," Sagula said. "The fact that there has been an established relationship (between Bostic and Shaffmaster) allows for connections and unspoken things that happen on the court."


@dthsports |

To get the day's news and headlines in your inbox each morning, sign up for our email newsletters.