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Nov. 16, 2000

CHARLOTTESVILLE – Student Athlete-of-the-Month showcases an athlete who has demonstrated excellence both on the court and in the classroom. The November Student Athlete-of-the-Month, fourth year Deanna Zwarich, has displayed a strong work ethic in her academic and athletic endeavors. Deanna is an English major and plans to graduate in May 2001. The Kansas native holds the University of Virginia’s all-time kills record and is the first player to amass 100 or more blocks in four consecutive seasons. Deanna holds the top two single-match kill totals as well, slamming 40 against Duke and 35 against Virginia Tech earlier this season. Zwarich will be remembered as one of UVa’s all-time greats!

Q: What were the main reasons in your decision to play volleyball for Virginia?

A: I wanted to be able to make an impact on the team wherever I went, and UVa offered a great opportunity for early playing time. I considered Stanford, but I would have had to wait awhile for substantial minutes. I wouldn’t have been able to stand sitting on the bench. Also, my older sister went to Stanford and rowed for the crew team, so I felt like I should get out from under her shadow a little bit.

Q: Your sister rowed at Stanford! Is your entire family athletic?

A: My dad played football at UCLA and my younger sister is a superstar at volleyball. She’s a 5’11” junior and plans to play in college, also. My mom is fairly active, especially for a “mom.”

Q: When did you start to become serious about volleyball?

A: I didn’t even have any idea what volleyball was until my freshman year of high school. The varsity volleyball coach was my English teacher that year, and she came up to me one day because I was an athlete who played varsity soccer and basketball. She asked me if I had ever thought about playing volleyball and I was pretty much like, “What’s that?” I didn’t really have any idea but she kind of talked me into it. I started playing J.V. my sophomore year and I was really horrible. I didn’t understand any of the rotating, but finally I played varsity my junior year and started to figure out where I was supposed to be and what I was supposed to do. I was athletic when I came to college, but since I have been here I feel I have really developed my volleyball skills.

Q: You said your English teacher was the one who first influenced you to play volleyball. Was her influence continual throughout your high school career?

A: She was a really, really big part of me coming to UVa. The recruiting process for any athlete trying to go to a Division I school is rigorous, especially when you’re 16 and 17 years old. You’re trying to be a high schooler and you have this peripheral recruiting process going on. It was really hard, but you have to know how to deal with it and how to sell yourself as an athlete. I had no idea what you were supposed to do, and my volleyball coach was a really big part of helping me make my skills video. Actually the reason, if you ask Melissa, my coach here, why she recruited me without watching me play, it is because of my skills video. It was totally my high school coach’s idea. She decided what I would do on it and what skills to put on it. She was really great. She’s now helping my sister get her name out there as well.

Q: Deanna, you set a UVa record with 40 kills against Duke. Can you talk about what that was like?

A: It didn’t feel like that at all. After the match someone came up to me and said, “Wow, Deanna, you had, like, 40 kills,” and I thought they were exaggerating. I couldn’t believe I actually did have 40. I remember when Jessica Parker had 30 kills and I thought that was so cool. I definitely didn’t realize I had that many, I just was trying to play hard and win.

Q: Deanna, your fourth year at the University is coming to a close. What are your plans upon graduation?

A: I am not really sure what I plan to do after graduation. Next semester, after volleyball is over, I will have time to really think about it. My older sister lives in New York, so I might want to move up there for awhile. I want to travel, I don’t think I am quite ready to start my career yet. I am majoring in English and one day might try writing novels.

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