Sisters Sarah and Amy Angelos are more than just physically identical.
The twins, in the midst of completing runs for different in-state volleyball programs, are two of the top middle blockers in the Midwest.
Sarah, who became the 20th member of NIU’s 1,000 kill club earlier this season, has been one of the focal points of NIU’s offense since her 2010 freshman season.
The same can be said for Amy, who led Bradley in hitting percentage in each of the past three seasons and leads the team in kills this year.
Before college, the sisters were even more indistinguishable. Aside from being on a different club volleyball team for one season, the pair lettered in basketball in high school and figure skated at an early age.
Sports always developed into a competition between Sarah and Amy. Years of playing together helped create a friendly rivalry that was fueled by one another’s success.
“Once in high school, we were our hugest supporters and were able to push each other by always trying to one-up each other,” Amy said. “We stuck together in basically everything we did…. I attribute all of my success — getting to college, getting to Div. I volleyball — to my sister.”
Once they were recruited by collegiate programs, the twins knew it was time to separate. Sarah and Amy decided the best option for their future athletic careers was to go to different schools.
In the weeks before they reported to NIU and Bradley, the sisters had trouble accepting the split. Sarah and Amy admitted they had a “freak-out moment” and confronted their mother about their decision.
“About a month before we had to [leave] for preseason, there was that moment where we realized we were never going to see each other,” Amy said. “It was rough. We were sitting in Sarah’s room just holding each other and my mom came in and we were crying. We asked her, ‘Why did you let us do this?’ My mom had to reassure us that we’d talk every day and see each other when we could.”
Distance has only been a minor hurdle for the twins. Despite being about 120 miles apart, Sarah and Amy have maintained their closeness and formed a bond with each other’s teammates.
“When I visit Bradley, I hang out with her team all the time,” Sarah said. “Sometimes I’ll go out to eat with them or go out with them without Amy. It’s like we’re just another teammate when we go to each other’s schools.”
Sarah is a frequent visitor to her sister’s school and was there on Sunday. The day after NIU won the Huskie Invitational, Sarah traveled to Bradley’s Renaissance Coliseum, where her sister holds the record for the coliseum’s most career kills, to watch Amy and the Braves open up their conference season with a 3-0 win over Drake.
The two have also met twice as competitors, as freshmen and juniors. NIU won both contests, with last year’s match ending in five sets on a kill from Sarah.
Sarah also holds the upper hand in the sibling rivalry by reaching 1,000 kills first, but Amy is not very far behind. The Bradley star is just 58 kills shy of becoming her program’s 12th member of the 1,000 kill club.
“I really wanted to get to 1,000 before her, but I’m super pumped for her,” Amy said. “That’s an awesome achievement. I’m so proud of her and I’m not mad she got there first. Everything’s competitive with us and sports, but no matter what, we are each other’s biggest cheerleader.”
Joy Angelos, Sarah and Amy’s mother, attended Sarah’s ceremony for reaching 1,000 kills and plans to be in Peoria for Amy’s when the time comes. She never imagined the level of her daughters’ successes and has continued to cherish their achievements.
“To get this far, you really have to work hard,” Joy said. “There’s a reason [the 1,000 kill club] is in the record book. I told them both, ‘You’re a superstar in high school, but when you’re in college, everyone’s a superstar so you may not play. You have to keep working hard and prove yourself.’ Fortunately, they did that, and I’m so proud of everything they’ve done.”