The pharmaceutical rep, 25, spoke with PEOPLE after her elimination aired about how her faith shaped her game, her connection with Matt, and why she chose to align herself with one of Survivor's greatest villains.
What made you decide to align with Russell?
When I got to the island I didn't talk to Russell at first. I was scared of him. I felt like he was going to view me as another Natalie that he did not want to beat him again. But he ended up looking at me as a Natalie in a good way – he got to the end with Natalie and her personality worked will with him. It wasn't an easy answer for me but when Russell asks you to be in an alliance you better be ready or ready to go home.
He does seem like a hard person to work with.
Russell's personality can be overwhelming but playing with him was always entertaining. There was always strategy and planning and I was thankful to be in an alliance that continued to plan for "just in case." And here's a lot of Russell that I got to learn early on that really made me trust him.
Even after he left you didn't seem to mesh with the rest of the tribe.
If I was to get up the very next day and say, "I regret aligning with Russell, please take me in," would that have really worked? No ... There was such a vivid argument to keep Stephanie and they still picked Sarita. When Russell left we didn't stay bitter, we joined in around camp. It was just obvious there wasn't any cracks to seep in to. They were comfortable and that's why I kept saying they weren't playing the game.
So you were glad to get away from them?
I feel like I'm the type of person that can handle any type of personality. I can usually find some way to get along but in this case it wasn't like that so I was [happy to] step in to a new refreshing environment. This was even before meeting Matt. Matt was just the icing on the cake.
You seemed to connect with him pretty fast on Redemption Island.
There is something so real about Matt. So much substance and personality and that's nothing that I got from my tribe. He's very magnetic and its so real and honest and we have a lot of the same views that we had not been able to express in the game.
It was nice of you to leave him your Bible.
When Matt first saw it in the tree mail, he lit up like we had just won the million dollars, like it was the greatest thing he had ever seen. And I knew how much it meant to him and that it would provide so much for him out there in the game.
Andrea didn't seem very happy about how you two bonded.
It did seem to hurt her feelings and I felt bad about it watching [the episode] because I didn't want her to feel like that. I hope that if Matt gets the chance to make it back in the game that that doesn't affect him.