This afternoon, Volleyblog Seattle spoke by phone to University of Washington recruit Lianna Sybeldon, who signed a 2012 letter of intent last week. The 6’2 middle blocker is in her final weeks of high school in Folsom, California, east of Sacramento. Here are edited excerpts from our conversation:
Your first visit to the University of Washington was to attend summer volleyball camp?
That was the summer after my freshman year. They were the first school that showed any interest in me. At the time, I wasn’t like, “oh, I want to go to UW.” My dad knew it was a higher-level school, but I didn’t really didn’t know it was anything special at the time.
So how’d it go?
It was really good. I was really impressed with the program. I love the coaches. I love the facilities. So, it was a very good experience.
Growing up, you played basketball before you played volleyball.
I played basketball when I was little, up through sixth grade. And then, seventh grade I started playing volleyball, and I quit basketball. Originally, I didn’t want to play volleyball at all. My mom was actually the reason that I started playing. Her best friend is 6’5; she was a basketball player. Her daughter, Meagan, played volleyball. And she told my mom she had to get me into volleyball.
How was that first volleyball experience?
I had never played, I barely knew the rules. And, it was so embarrassing; I was so bad at it. And I hated it, I said, “I do not want to do this.” But then I played middle school volleyball, and I really started liking it. And now, of course, I’m so glad they had me try it, because I love it.
Okay, why do you love volleyball?
I love the camaraderie between teammates. I’ve never been on a team of mean girls. They’ve always been such nice people. And I like the fact that your competitors are on the other side of the net! (laughs) Everyone on your side is your friend. I really like the game, the fast pace of it. And, like any hitter, I love the glory of getting a kill! (laughs)
Your dad played in the NFL. Does he ever offer advice?
He says, I’ve been an athlete. I’ve been at the highest level. I know what it takes. Just trust me.
Have you always played middle blocker?
In my 15’s year, for club, I was starting to play outside. And then, our middle broke her finger, so I got switched to middle. And then, I never got to go back to the outside, much to my dismay. I prefer middle now; at the time I wanted to be an outside.
What other schools did you consider?
The other schools I visited were the University of Oregon, Colorado State and University of San Diego. My parents set up the visits for me. The only one I really wanted to go on was to Washington. And I wanted to commit right away, but my parents said, “No, you have to visit some other schools.” Which I appreciated, because it made me more confident that Washington is where I want to go.
Do you know the three other 2012 incoming Washington freshmen?
(Setter) Katy (Beals), I know the least. But, I’ve talked with her and I really like her. (Libero) Cassie (Strickland) and I talk fairly regularly. Last year, at almost every club tournament, my team and Melanie’s team would play each other. When Washington came down last season to play Cal and Stanford, me and (hitter) Melanie (Wade) both went to those games, and I spent the night at Melanie’s house.
What do you think about the fact that Seattle will host the 2013 NCAA D1 Volleyball Final Four?
I actually didn’t know that. How exciting!