Tipiana has great hopes for last season

Conversation about the University of Miami’s volleyball team would be incomplete without mentioning one of its brightest stars: Valeria Tipiana.

Tipiana, a senior, is essential to the Hurricanes’ roster, and she will be one of the keys to their success in the upcoming season.

Tipiana has put up big numbers throughout an impressive career at UM. In 2003, Tipiana finished with 335 kills and an average of 3.81 kills a game per game. During the 2002 campaign, she made history by becoming the Hurricanes’ first Big East Player of the Year.

When asked what her favorite part of the game is, she says, “I like hitting and scoring kills a lot, but then again I like everything about this game.”

The numbers certainly prove this. In 2003 she put up at least one kill, one dig, and one block in all but three matches.

“Val is a special player because she has great skills, most notably her attacking, but also her blocking, serving and defense,” Head Coach Nicole Lantagne Welch said. “You could say that she has the whole package.”

Besides being obviously talented, Tipiana has a formidable amount of experience in the sport, as she has played since the age of 12 in her home country of Peru. It was there that she was introduced to several sports by her parents, who were athletes themselves. When asked if she was ever turned on to other sports, Tipiana says, “Not really; I tried basketball, swimming, and other things – but I didn’t really like them like I did with volleyball.”

Tipiana chose to play the sport that mattered most to her, and in 2000 she was a member of the Peruvian national team.

Tipiana was candid in talking about improving as a player.

“I would say my blocking has improved a lot, as far as getting my hands in the right position,” she said.

“I think that she [Tipiana] is in great shape, and that she’s ripping the ball just right,” Lantagne Welch said.

Opening up the season Wednesday night against cross-town Florida International University, Tipiana finds herself only 11 kills short of the 1,000-career kill mark, a milestone that no Hurricane has ever reached. Quite impressive is her focus on her own game.

“I want to walk my own path, and I don’t like to compare myself to anyone else,” she said.

While Tipiana may be listed as a right side hitter, it’s evident that she is a great all-around player and her contributions to the team this year will be huge.

Lantagne Welch captured the enthusiasm of not only Tipiana but also the entire volleyball team.

“We’re excited for the season because we have more returning players than we’ve had in a while, and we are looking forward to the challenge of the ACC conference.”

Michael Soto can be contacted at m.soto3@umiami.edu.