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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Hanzlova finding her way

Gordon Bates / Arizona Daily Wildcat

Volleyball vs Louisville
Gordon Bates
Gordon Bates / Arizona Daily Wildcat Volleyball vs Louisville

Marketa Hanzlova, a junior outside hitter from the Czech Republic, didn’t always picture herself coming to the United States. In fact, it was something the volleyball star just stumbled in to.

“”I decided (to come to America) my last year of high school. My best friend was in America, and she said it’s amazing,”” said Hanzlova. “”So I started to think about it, and then it just happened.””

According to Hanzlova, the coaching staff at the University of the Pacific, in Stockton, Calif. – where she was originally committed – played a big factor in making the decision to move to the United States.

“”I had many schools to choose from, but Pacific actually went to the Czech Republic so I had a chance to talk to the coach,”” said Hanzlova on her recruitment. “”I could see the girls – talk to them, so that was something that helped my decision.””

As if moving to the other side of the globe wasn’t enough change to last Hanzlova her entire lifetime, the NCAA ruled that she would be ineligible to play immediately for Pacific.

Instead of sitting out for a year, she chose to attend Northern Idaho College – a two-year college in Coeur d’Alene.

“”I had to choose a junior college, and a coach from Pacific knew a coach at Northern Idaho,”” said Hanzlova. “”That’s how I ended up in Idaho before coming here.””

Hanzlova excelled at Northern Idaho, finishing last season with 357 kills and 37 service aces, but like any other athlete leaving their home country to play a collegiate sport overseas, the biggest adjustment wasn’t on the court – it was off of it.

“”It was a big change. Like at first it was language for sure – I didn’t speak English at all,”” Hanzlova recalled. “”And then volleyball was different, and school, and everything was different. It was a huge change.””

After making a huge culture adjustment, Hanzlova is now able to focus on what brought her to the U.S. in the first place – volleyball. Except there was just one more change in store.

After being ruled ineligible at Pacific when she first moved to America, Hanzlova decided to enroll at Arizona and become a Wildcat.

So far in 2010, she has racked up 10 kills and 15 digs over 22 sets of play, and she is becoming a fixture in the rotation for head coach Dave Rubio.

“”She’s been a great addition from the back row standpoint, and she’s helped us quite a bit,”” said Rubio. “”We’re seeing some good production out of her. I know she’s maybe a little bit frustrated and would like to play more front row, but at this point this is how she’s going to contribute.””

She could be a key player on next year’s team, and Rubio thinks that time in a Division-1 strength and conditioning program could put her over the top as a player.

“”She’s still a little behind from just an athletic standpoint – she’s just not as fast or explosive or can jump as high as we’d like her to,”” Rubio continued. “”But that’ll come with time and strength.””

Hanzlova came to the United States to play volleyball, but she’s most excited about her education. Even with all of the adjustments she’s had to make, she offered a surprising answer when asked if school has been tough.

“”Not yet,”” she said with a laugh. “”I know it will be, though.””

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