Sept. 1, 2011
Every Thursday, UCLABruins.com will sit down with a member of the women's volleyball team. This week, we sit down with freshman Megan Moenoa, who talks about her opening weekend, her decision to come to UCLA and her fondness for Kobe Bryant and Beyoncé.
UCLABruins.com: How do you feel the first weekend went for you individually and as a team?
Megan Moenoa: For me it was a success, getting out the first game jitters. For the team it was a success because it gave us confidence going into this weekend in Hawai'i. It was good for us to get a couple of wins under our belt and work with each other against other teams.
.com: What is something the team really needs to work on?
MM: Running our offense, because we are a faster team. We have a lot of big girls and Mike (Sealy) was saying the other day that it's been a while since we've had a majority of our team touching over 10 feet. We need to work on getting more consistent with the offense.
.com: How excited are you to go to Hawai'i this weekend?
MM: Really excited. I've never been to Hawai'i. I hear the fans are crazy for their volleyball, so it will be cool to experience that.
.com: How has it been adjusting from high school volleyball to collegiate volleyball?
MM: It's been tough, but it's what I expected. I knew that it was going to be hard coming in, especially with my position since it essentially has to run the court. That is a little intimidating sometimes because you have a freshman coming in and trying to tell these older girls what to do. I've usually been the older one, so at times it's been a bit overwhelming.
.com: What was your most thrilling moment of your high school career?
MM: Beating Harvard-Westlake last season. We played them in the playoffs and they were ranked number one going in and we were a team of nobodies. We were expected to lose right away, but we ended up beating them in three straight. We came out with so much adrenaline and ready to right. Also, during my senior club season (Mizuno Long Beach), we didn't finish that strong, but it was a really good experience. I played with those girls for two years and it was a good note to end on.
.com: What do you feel your biggest challenge will be once school starts and you have to juggle that with volleyball?
MM: Being able to not be overwhelmed. I need to be able to come into practice and leave whatever is going on in school and my social life out of the gym and focus on what I have to do in practice. And if I'm in class, put volleyball out of the way and focus on my schoolwork.
.com: When and why did you decide that you wanted to attend UCLA?
MM: I decided my sophomore year that UCLA was one of the schools I was really going to try and get in to. I had a death in the family and it made me realize how much I wanted my family to be able to watch me play and this was the perfect location for me. Hawai'i was another school that I was really interested in because Mike was coaching there and I wanted to play for him. I had heard great things about him and he and Joy (McKienzie-Fuerbringer, her club coach) are great friends and she'd always say what a great setter he was, how good of a coach he is and how passionate he is about the game. I really wanted to experience that and play for him. I was still leaning more towards UCLA because it was close to home and the family factor was important to me and then I heard that Mike was applying for this job and I said that if he got the job that I'm for sure going to UCLA. And when he got the job, my decision was made.
.com: How did you brother influence you towards playing volleyball?
MM: I always thought I wanted to be a basketball player because I watched Kobe and I wanted to be like him. My brother got into volleyball in his high school years and he loved it right away. Even though we are eight years apart, I've always been really close to my brother. So I'd watch him at open gyms and go to his club practices and sit there and watch. His coaches would always come up to me and pepper with me and I liked it right away. I begged my mom to let me play and she finally let me when I was 10 and I joined Joy's 12's club team. I've loved it ever since.
.com: What part of your game do you feel you need to work on the most?
MM: Being consistent at running the offense and being confident in myself and knowing I can do it. Sometimes I get that uncertainty about myself and that's when I get tentative. But when I'm confident, I'm really consistent.
.com: What do you like the most about being a setter?
MM: Being in charge. I feel that in the moment I can make really good decisions. I like to know that I'm in control of things and that I can dictate how the game is going, if it's going fast or if it's going slow. And with the setter, there is a lot of scheming and you have to know which plays to run, what's working and what's not working against other teams.
.com: What is the most difficult thing about being a setter?
MM: Trying to figure out how to fix things when they aren't working. If you are running a play and you keep getting shut down by the other team, you have to know how to change and how to make it work and you have to do that quickly.
.com: Does it help you that the entire UCLA coaching staff are all former collegiate setters?
MM: I think that setters have to know every position. You have to know the tendencies of your hitters and your passers. For them as coaches, it's an advantage because they know all the positions very well. And so because they've been in our shoes, they can communicate to us and help us better understand what we need to do.
.com: Go through your pre-game routine?
MM: I like to listen to softer music to calm my mind and make sure I'm in good spirits.
.com: What do you enjoy the most about playing volleyball?
MM: The team atmosphere. Even off the court, you have a relationship with the people on your team that many people don't understand until you're on a team. And that's what has kept me loving volleyball this long.
.com: What is your biggest fear?
MM: Not meeting my expectations.
.com: Why did you decide to wear #9?
MM: I've never had a lucky number. I wanted to be 99 because I was at Lakewood, but we only go up to 24, so nine was cool with me.
.com: Who is the team's class clown?
MM: Nikki Casale for sure. She makes everybody laugh, especially when we need it. If we are all down, she will get your spirits up in a heartbeat. Just thinking about her makes me laugh.
.com: If you could trade places with a celebrity for a day, who would it be?
MM: Beyoncé for sure, because she is amazing. She's one of the people I'll listen to before games because she has this confidence to her.
.com: If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would it be?
MM: Probably Samoa, because I've never been and it would be cool to see my roots.
.com: Who is your favorite professional athlete?
MM: Kobe Bryant. He's really confident. I know a lot of people criticize him for his arrogance, but I think that's what makes him great. I love watching him play. He's always been an idol of mine.
.com: What is your favorite website?
MM: Facebook for sure, even though I don't want to admit it. I'm on it 24/7.
.com: What do you enjoy doing in your spare time?
MM: I just like to relax and hang out with my family. It's good sometimes to just get away and talk about other things besides volleyball in order to clear your mind.
.com: If you could have one super power, what would it be?
MM: Flying. I would get to places faster.
.com: Who has been the most influential person in your life?
MM: My mom. She's the strongest woman I know. She's what I strive to be as a person and on the court as a leader.
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