Hard Work Pays Off for Ramirez Becoming the Starting Libero
Coming into this season, Utah volleyball was searching to find a replacement after career digs leader Brianna Doehrmann graduated last season leaving big shoes to fill.
Enter incoming freshman Vanessa Ramirez from Pasadena, California, who was excited to get to campus and get to work. She had a great high school career being named to the Pasadena News All-Area team twice as well as earning All-Dell Rey League honors all four years.
"I knew when I came in, I needed to work hard either way, whether I was starting or not," Ramirez said. "My mindset has always been to continue to work hard and get extra reps as often as I can. I want to learn from my teammates and coaches to get better every day. I just want to help the team win."
Coming to a team that was picked to win the Pac-12 in the preseason coaches poll and finished ranked ninth in the final poll of 2019 can be hard for a freshman to crack the lineup, but Ramirez kept the same mindset she's always had to work hard.
That attitude helped her, because Ramirez was the starting libero in the opening weekend in both matches against Arizona. In her two matches, she totaled 18 digs and led the team with 13 digs in her first collegiate match on Friday.
It has been a lifelong dream for her to play volleyball for a Pac-12 school so she had some nerves heading into that first weekend, but once the match started those were gone.
"I was really excited and nervous at the same time, but once I stepped on the floor I just needed to touch the ball one time to get in the game," Ramirez said. "I really love competing in big places like the Huntsman Center, but at the same time once I walked in it was like a dream come true. It was always my dream to play at a Pac-12 school and that dream has now come true."
The hard work is paying off, but she knows being the libero is a lot of responsibility. In both matches over the weekend, she was diving all over the floor and bringing a positive energy to her teammates.
"For me, being the libero is just about having a lot of energy, being a good passer, pumping up my teammates and supporting them if they make a mistake and telling them they'll get it next point," Ramirez said. "It's honestly just being very supportive."
She'll continue to bring that energy in matches and at practice, because she knows this season could be a special one.
"What's next for me is winning as a team and trying to win the Pac-12 this year," Ramirez said. "We have a chance to win with this team and that's going to come from getting better at practice. For me, that's getting feedback from my teammates and coaches, and when I make a mistake, telling me what I can improve on. It's always working hard at practice to help the team win."
Whether it's pumping up her teammates or having a good pass, she now knows exactly what her mindset should be.
"No balls drop on the floor," Ramirez said. "Go for everything."