Thursdays With ... Jenna Scilacci

Nov. 17, 2011

Every Thursday, will sit down with a member of the women's volleyball team. This week, we talk with sophomore Jenna Scilacci, who discusses her close relationship with her family, the part of her game she needs to work the most on and her favorite part about Thanksgiving. Both your parents and your two brothers attended UCLA and you went to high school just down the street. Were you always destined to come here?
JS: I always wanted to come here, but my parents gave me the choice of looking elsewhere and following my own dreams. I had looked at some places that were offering scholarships, but I wanted to play in the Pac-12. It didn't scare me that I'd be a little fish in a big school. But I love going to school here with my older brother Brian and I knew that this is exactly where I wanted to be.

.com: What guidance did your brothers give you about attending and playing volleyball at UCLA?
JS: My brother Brian is an undersized volleyball player, so he taught me to not get discouraged and to keep working hard and that my time will come. Both he and (my oldest brother) James were very supportive and they know exactly how this program works, so they have helped me out a lot.

.com: How great is it to be attending college so close to home?
JS: I love it. Since UCLA has always been where I wanted to go, it didn't really matter if it was near or far to home. I love going home for home-cooked meals and to see my dog Bear. And I'm close to all my favorite restaurants too, so I take everyone there. I'm such a homebody and I love being close to my parents, and they love when I bring friends over and have team parties at our house.

.com: What was it like being the only girl in a three-sibling household?
JS: My brothers were very inclusive. They made me the strong person that I am today. I played volleyball because both of my brothers did. We had that thing in common. But as we grew up, we got much closer. But when I was younger, they would pick fights with me and tackle me as brothers do, but we are closer now.

.com: When and why did you start playing volleyball?
JS: I started playing volleyball right after Brian did, when I was in the fifth grade. James was actually the last person to pick it up. I also did dance growing up, but I just stuck with volleyball.

.com: Nearly two years into your collegiate career, what is the biggest difference between high school volleyball and the college game? When do you think you finally got acclimated to the college game?
JS: The speed of the game. That was the hardest thing to adjust to. And also the height of the players. Obviously playing in the Pac-12, everyone is huge, so being an undersized middle blocker is very hard to adjust to. But I've always been more of a quick hitter, so that is where I excel. This year is when I started picking up how the college game works.

.com: What part of your game do you feel you need to work the most on?
JS: My blocking. Being an undersized middle, the blocking part is the hardest. I can't block like some of these girls. But what (head coach Michael) Sealy teaches is to be relaxed. Because it's such a fast-paced game, you can kind of freak out a little bit and get a little frazzled. But you just have to quiet the mind and get relaxed and that's when I start blocking balls. I also need to work on being as fast as I can.

.com: What do you enjoy the most about playing volleyball?
JS: The competition part of it and the team camaraderie. I'm a very competitive person, and it's so fun when we are doing 6-on-6, just talking smack between the net and everyone is so competitive and that's what makes the game so fun to play. And also just having these awesome girls who always have your back and are always encouraging you to get better and be the best person you can be.

.com: What has been your most exciting moment on the volleyball court?
JS: Last year when we beat Stanford at home, that was like the best moment ever. But really it's those big wins, like that one, when all the hard work pays off. I think we've been proving it a lot this year.

.com: If you didn't play volleyball, what sport would you play?
JS: I would be a tennis player, because they wear cute outfits and it looks fun. I've played for fun. That's definitely a sport I'm going to try and pick up as I get older.

.com: Go through your pre-game routine.
JS: I'm not superstitious at all, which is pretty rare. I think that if I don't do that pre-game routine or I don't have a lucky knee pad or something, then it's just going to throw me off, so it's better to just not have anything at all. After serve and pass, I'll go back to the dorms and nap, but there's no specific ritual that I do before a match.

.com: What other UCLA athletic events do you like to attend?
JS: Men's soccer is very fun to watch, and also men's volleyball. Football games are fun too.

.com: If you could travel anywhere around the world, where would it be?
JS: I love Europe. I've been to Paris and Italy. I think the next place I'd like to go is Bali. That's some place I'd like to explore and a part of the world that I have no idea about. It seems very interesting.

.com: If you could have one super power, what would it be?
JS: I would love to snap my fingers and be anywhere I want. Sometimes I wish I could just snap my fingers and be back in my dorm instead of walking all across campus. But being able to go anywhere in the world at one moment, that would be cool.

.com: If you could trade places for a day with a celebrity, who would it be?
JS: Blake Lively. She's fabulous. I love her clothes. She's my favorite celebrity for sure. But I think I'd only want to be her so I could steal her closet and then I would switch back to me.

.com: Who is your favorite professional athlete?
JS: I love Kobe Bryant because he is a great basketball player and I love his confidence. Also Lance Armstrong. I really look up to athletes who have overcome setbacks, injuries or illnesses, and it's really awesome to look up to athletes who have overcome those adversities in their career. That's something I really admire.

.com: What do you enjoy doing in your spare time?
JS: I like to go to the beach, hang out with friends, anything outdoors, hiking, stand-up paddle boarding, paddle tennis. Or if it's a rainy day, just have a nice cup of tea and watch a movie with my family.

.com: What is your favorite part about Thanksgiving?
JS: Being close with the people that you love. My brother (James) is coming home this year from New York and I'm excited to see him. Also, Kelly Reeves' family is coming to Thanksgiving. They came last year and our families are very close. We also have a Thanksgiving team dinner to get in the holiday mindset, and it's so much fun because it's always right before the USC match.

.com: What is your biggest fear?
JS: Not living up to the expectations that I set for myself. I have high expectations for myself and I want to reach those goals. I don't want to have any regrets, so there is a fear of failure also. I just want to live up to the person that I want to be and I think I'm on the right track.

.com: What is your favorite website?
JS: Facebook and Twitter, obviously. But I have an online shopping addiction, so I have a lot of favorite online shopping websites, but I'm trying to cure that addiction.

.com: Who has been the most influential person/people in your life?
JS: My parents. They drive me nuts, but they've shaped me into the person that I am. I've always wanted to surround myself with people that are going to make me a better person and my parents help with that. I also have 10 best friends from high school and those are people who have shaped who I am and we all bring out the best in each other. Whenever we are all together, it's awesome. We love each other so much.

Previous Thursdays With ...
Sara Sage
Katie Camp
Rachael Kidder
Kelly Reeves
Megan Moenoa
Tabi Love
Mariana Aquino
Bojana Todorovic
Lauren Van Orden
Karsta Lowe
Priscilla Duke-Ezeji
Olivia Okoro
Zoë Nightingale
Madie Smith
Meg Norton

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