2008-01-17 / News

Cirella excels in college volleyball

By Stephanie Heelan Cotsonas

Rachael Cirella goes to the net for her Salve Regina volleyball team. Photo courtesy of Rachael Cirella Rachael Cirella goes to the net for her Salve Regina volleyball team. Photo courtesy of Rachael Cirella Having been exposed to a variety of sports at an early age, islander Rachael Cirella has been an athlete her whole life. Cirella just finished her second season as a setter on the Salve Regina volleyball team.

The Salve team is a member of the Commonwealth Coast Conference (CCC) and finished the 2007 season with an 11-15 record, after losing in the quarterfinals to Colby- Sawyer College in New London, N.H.

Cirella learned to play volleyball in her backyard after her brother Eric played for North Kingstown High School and her mother started playing beach volleyball. In seventh and eighth grade, she attended volleyball camps at the high school and she immediately had a love for the game. "I was lucky to have my family to teach me," said Cirella about her early days playing volleyball.

As a freshman on the North Kingstown High School volleyball team, she swung up to varsity. She also played high school soccer and basketball, but in her senior year the girls' volleyball season was changed from spring to fall, so her soccer career came to an end. Cirella received All-Division honors her junior and senior years and was selected for the All-Tournament teams after the Skippers lost to East Providence in the finals both years.

In her first season playing for Salve, Cirella was given the academic Hall of Fame award, which goes to those athletes who maintain a 3.2 or higher GPA. Also as a sophomore, Cirella was on the CCC volleyball weekly honor roll as she led the Seahawks in assists, averaging 5.4 per game. Her 2007 season statistics after playing in 60 games consisted of 30 kills, 350 assists, and 169 digs.

Cirella has succeeded in taking her volleyball to the next level. "Not many people that I know are doing sports in college. Some people think it will be too time consuming or they just want to play their four years in high school and be done with it." She also loves being part of the Salve team. "When you get to college you are on your own. If you do a sport, you are meeting new people right away. As a fall sport we move into the dorms two weeks before everyone else and automatically you have friends."

She is enjoying her college experience, balancing school and playing for the Salve team. "I think it is great to play a college sport. It keeps me on track with my school work, because if I know I have practice at a certain time I do my homework before it," she said.

It is not surprising that Cirella has had so much success in volleyball, and by her own admission she comes from an athletic family. Currently her father, Steve, is the baseball coach at Salve Regina and her brother Eric is as assistant baseball coach at URI. Eric Cirella was a decorated baseball player at Salve and was an Academic All-American, Salve male athlete of the year, and an ESPN, the Magazine Academic All-American of the Year.

Cirella has been very involved in town athletics, working at the recreation summer playground program and teaching gymnastics. She still hopes to work with kids in some capacity. "I would love to coach volleyball and I would have loved it if Jamestown had a program where I could have started earlier."

As a marketing major, Cirella is looking forward to an internship next year as well as at least one more year playing volleyball. Her freshman year she attended the University of Tampa, where she did not play, therefore she will have one more year of eligibility after her senior year. She went on to say, "I would regret not playing volleyball in college because you can only play for so long and then it is done."

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