Aug. 2, 2006
Los Angeles, Calif. - Loyola Marymount standout Kelli Nerison (2001-04) became the most recent Lion to join the professional volleyball ranks when she signed with Aguere Alvemaca Excentric in Spain in the summer of 2005. She will be one of several LMU volleyball alumnae to reunite for the annual Alumnae Match Saturday, August 19, at 7:00 p.m. in Gersten Pavilion.
While at LMU, Nerison was a two-time honorable mention AVCA All-American and the 2004-05 LMU Female Athlete of the Year. Now overseas, Nerison shares some of her professional volleyball experiences with Lion fans in this special interview feature.
LMU: Describe your team and life in Spain.
Kelli Nerison: My team was Aguere Alvemaca Excentric. We were located in the Canary Islands, just off the coast of Morocco, on the Island of Tenerife, city of La Laguna. La Laguna was the Island's original capital and is full of historic buildings, shopping and spanish culture. I had two Canadians, a Briazilian, and a Hungarian for teammates that spoke English to keep me company. My roommate was actually Kristina Bognar, who was a setter for the University of San Francisco for a year in 2002.
LMU: How did your team do this year?
KN: The Spanish Superliga is one of the most competitive leagues in the world. Most people say it is second only to Italy. Our team finished 9th out of 14 teams, just barely missing going to playoffs. Our starting outside tore her ACL toward the end of the season, which hurt us greatly. The team had moments of great playing, especially when we beat one of the top ranked teams in the conference, Albacete. Unfortunately, we were also unpredictable, giving away a few unexpected losses.
LMU: Talk about the differences in volleyball style.
KN: The Spanish- and Europe as a whole- style of volleyball is very different from American. You will never find a seventh place team that dreams of winning the league. It is very interesting because any time we played teams that were ranked far above us, the pep-talk would be something like "let's just try to serve tough." They never expected us to beat anyone ranked above us, but also didn't expect us to loseto anyone ranked below us. It was quite strange, especially afterbeing fed the "you can beat anyone" mentality my whole life. Naturally, I still believe that I can beat anyone, so I had to get usedto the local girls laughing and socializing right after a loss.
LMU: Describe your travels over the last season.
KN: We got to travel all over Spain to play. Road trips could be pretty grueling, since we always flew into Madrid (a 3 hour flight) and then traveled from there on by car. I just wish that we had more time to spend in each city we played in. On road trips, I often gave up my nap time in order to run all over the city to try and take in all thesights.
LMU:How did your LMU career prepare you to play professionally?
KN: I'll just say that the level of play, expectations, and difficulty of practices at LMU were much harder than that on my Spanish team, and most European teams from what I hear. I definitely felt fully prepared to play at that high level. I really missed the drills and skills that we did at LMU practices, because in Spain, we pretty much just scrimmaged the whole time. I also miss the responsibility and accountability that the LMU program demands.
LMU: What will you always remember about your first year of professional volleyball?
KN: All-in all, it was a great experience and an awesome location. Sometimes, I have to remind myself to step back and thinkabout how awesome it is to be a professional volleyball player. I getto travel around Europe, and I get paid to play a sport I would play for free. That seems to somehow make being away from home worthwhile. And hey, I might as well do this while I'm young and able! I am currently looking into finding a new team for next year, hopefully in a different country so that I can experience a new place.