Standing miles above the competition

Portland State’s Richell Wilson is having an incredible year on the volleyball court and is currently leading the team in offense.

Standing at five feet ten inches tall and hailing from a little unknown town in Arizona, sophomore Richell Wilson has shown her volleyball teammates what she is capable of on and off the court.

Wilson grew up near Los Angeles, Calif. and started playing volleyball as soon as she was able hit a ball. A couple weeks before her freshman year, Wilson moved with her family to Kingman, Ariz. where she continued her volleyball pursuits.

“I was pretty good at it because I was tall and skinny,” Wilson said. “It’s just something that’s stuck with me.”

During her high school career, Wilson began playing club volleyball in Las Vegas where she was ultimately scouted by Portland State University. From there, it was on to the big leagues.

Wilson played in a total of 23 matches as a freshman for Portland State in 2000, starting in two of those. Still, she averaged 1.42 kills and .87 digs per match.

Wilson also received Big Sky All-Academic team honors. Throughout the year, her skills only improved, along with her grades.

Finishing the academic year of 2000-01, Wilson came away with a 3.7 Grade Point Average. As often as she can, she has her nose in the books, despite the busy and sometimes demanding schedule for volleyball players.

“You learn to deal,” Wilson said. “You learn to study whenever you possibly can.”

With a new coaching staff and a year of experience under her belt, Wilson is confident about the upcoming years and most importantly, the season at hand. For the Vikings to reach their goal of a conference playoff berth, they must finish the season in sixth place and to do this, they must win four of their remaining matches.

Besides helping her team achieve this goal, Wilson also has an individual season goal.”My personal goal is to get back to having fun and playing the way I can play,” she said.

The season started out great for the Vikings, who came off a two-year rut with a total number of wins that could be counted on a single hand with three missing fingers. Portland State opened the season winning its first two tournaments back to back. But Wilson feels she and the rest of the team are in a bit of a slump.

“We started out really strong,” Wilson said. “I think at the beginning we were having a whole lot of fun. We actually won. We kind of got comfortable.”

They got a little too comfortable. But Wilson is confident this year’s team is quite capable of reaching the playoffs.

Playoffs aside, Wilson feels she has a lot of room to make improvements to her game. As a sophomore who is already a starter for the team, one asset she has is time.

“I have lots of room to grow,” Wilson said. “I need to become a smarter player.”

One of the things that may help Wilson reach her goals is the new coaching staff. This year Jeff Mozzochi returned to take over the position of head coach of the women’s volleyball team and Wilson couldn’t be happier.

“Jeff has all the confidence in the world in me,” she said. “It’s making me play all that much better.”

Wilson is currently working to improve her vertical leap mainly to help her block against taller opponents. Plus, it’s something her dad has been hounding her for a long time to improve.