Serving Volleyball Stardom
Jacqueline Ribeiro is a girl on the rise! Over the summer Ribeiro took home the title for first place at the USA Volleyball Junior Beach National Championships. Quite an accomplishment for a girl who is only 16-years-old and just entered her junior year at Vandergrift High school in Austin, TX. Having lived in Hawaii and Europe, volleyball has always been a part of Ribeiro’s life, but it wasn’t until she moved to Texas that Jacqueline started playing competitively.
Ribeiro also plays for the varsity team at Vandergrift High School, but transitioning from sand to indoor can have its challenges.
“It’s definitely a big transition to jump from one to the other. When I play indoor, the focus is perfecting your game in one position, and when I play beach I have to cover the court and play every position. I do find that indoor/sand compliment each other and ultimately make me a better all around player,” Ribeiro said.
Indoor volleyball is played with six players per side. Each person has a specialized position and there are complex rotations going on throughout each match. Beach volleyball is played in pairs. There are no specialized positions, only a left and right side. Most beach players are well-rounded and can hit, dig and block. At the higher levels, one player is dedicated to blocking and one to digging.
As stated by the NCAA, beach volleyball is the fastest growing NCAA sport in history, in addition to becoming one of the most watched Olympic sports. Ribeiro has already received a beach volleyball to University of California, Berkeley, furthering her dreams to play at an advanced level. Not only is it significant to receive a scholarship to such a prominent school, but to be selected out of state speaks volumes of her talent, considering Berkeley is part of the best beach volleyball conference in the country.
Ribeiro will also be training in Brazil during her second semester of her junior year. Perfect timing for the upcoming 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, which Ribeiro and her family will be attending.
One of the people who have had the biggest influence on Ribeiro is Olympic gold medalist from Brazil, Jackie Silva. She’s a fitting mentor for Ribeiro because she is the first female to receive an Olympic gold medal in the sport of beach volleyball. Ribeiro’s father has also had a very big influence on her. He played professional basketball in Europe, so playing sports had always been a major part of their lives. Her father, a native Brazilian, was able to connect her with a fellow Brazilian trainer, Erika Rodriguez, with Xtreme Volei, who coaches Ribeiro year round in Austin.
When asked what accomplishment she was most proud of, Ribeiro said, “The nationals were a great win, as my partner and I played for three days without losing a single game! I really enjoyed this tournament because it was a culmination of all that I had worked on over the summer. On the final day, there was one game where we were down 14-20 (game went to 21) and we came back and won! That was one of those “never-ever give up” moments!”
Ribeiro’s post-Berkeley goals include playing beach volleyball professionally in the U.S., and she hopes to one day compete in the Olympics.