August 15, 2021 – By NJP (Photo’s courtesy of Juan Paolo Alicante @pixelpursuit on Instagram)
Olivia Alicante is a New Jersey high school volleyball player that is always pushing herself to be better. She has a classic story of a student with outstanding athletic ability that is pushed forward because of her skills. She has experienced this as a new freshman in high school who not only made varsity in her first season, but also led her team in kills. At her club teams, she has played up one- or two-year levels because of her talent level. This upcoming season, despite being only 15, she will be playing at the 17 National level. As you read her story, you will realize this is her comfort zone where most people would have been pushed far out of their boundaries.
When you watch Olivia play, you feel a sense of admiration and respect. You understand the hard work she has put in as well as her natural athletic abilities that shine when she takes the court. She works hard at her form, positioning, and developing her expertise. And it shows.
Alicante plays like a senior despite her starting only her second year of high school. She literally flies when on the attack and is smooth as silk on her approach jumps. She gets power and speed on her hits from her well-developed swing. Olivia has speed and grace around the net and can explode on hits and blocks. She is honing her skills on the service line as well and will be one of the top young players to watch as this Fall season gets underway.
For St. Thomas Aquinas, they lose quite a few senior varsity starters to graduation, but will be fueled by another generation of rising talent including Olivia (SOS 16-1 National), Danielle Suter (Impact 16), Alyssa Miel (Core 15 Diamond), and Kylie Ferber (Core 16 Platinum). The future is bright for the Trojans.
Here is our interview with Ms. Alicante…
Hello Olivia? Thanks for joining the NJP player interview club. Tell us a bit about yourself?
Hi! I am Olivia Alicante. I am from North Plainfield, and I am an incoming sophomore at St Thomas Aquinas High School. I will be graduating in 2024. I am the youngest of 4 children. I play volleyball at Side Out Sports Volleyball Club.
How long have you played volleyball and what inspired you to take up volleyball initially?
I have been playing volleyball since 7th grade, so this is about to be my fourth year of volleyball. I had many friends that played volleyball and they told me to try it out competitively. My middle school didn’t have a volleyball team, so I did a summer camp and loved it. I tried out at a club the winter right after and fell in love with the sport.
What are your metrics/details? Height, vertical, position, club team, etc. What is your favorite position to play?
I am 5’9. My vertical is about 20 inches. My approach touch is around 9’6/9’7. I play outside and right side at Side Out Sports Volleyball Club. For this upcoming club season, I am going to play for Justin Beaumont and Carly Waterman on 17 National. I love playing both outside and right side because I can be a reliable option on both sides. I like hitting the different shots and I love hitting line on both positions. Outside has its pros because you get the ball the most and I enjoy playing middle back defense. Right side is fun to me because I love to block.
Tell us about your Trojan teammates. Who do you expect to be this year’s standout players in the Fall?
I think Alyssa Miel and Danielle Suter will stand out this fall. Alyssa is the glue of our defense. She never lets a ball drop, and you can always count on her. Danielle Suter is able to play setter and outside which really expands our options and she is amazing at both positions.
NJP considers you as one of the top players in the state, especially for your class year. Do you plan on playing in college? If so, which ones are you looking at? What do you plan to study in college or what is your career path?
I do hope to play D1 volleyball. I am looking all over the country but right now Colgate, UPenn, Colombia, UC Irvine, and Boston College are some places I aspire to play at. I am looking to study something in Behavioral Sciences such as Neuroscience or Psychology.
You led your team in kills in your first varsity year in the Spring high school season, finishing 8th among all freshmen. What are your goals for the remainder of your high school career at STA?
Since this school season won’t be interrupted with clubs, I hope to play in every game and get to the playoffs and have a long run. My goals are to make first team all state, score 1000 points, to be able to break my own record of most kills in a game, and bring the Trojans a title before I graduate.
STA had a solid Spring season finishing 10-3 with 2 league losses to Mother Seton. Do you think the Trojans can run down the Setters this Fall in the GMC-Blue?
I think since those two losses to Mother Seton were so close, we will be able to pull through this season with a win. We did lose our seniors who were a big part of why we were able to come so close to winning but I think with a lot of hard work we will be able to come through.
Tell us about your club experience at Side Out Sports?
I absolutely love Side Out Sports. Without the coaching staff and players there, I would not be the player I am today. The coaches there always push me to be my best and they believe in me. The environment is unmatched to any other volleyball gym I have stepped foot in. The love and support that they guide you with is what I always look forward to when I go to practice. This upcoming season will be my third season with them, and I can’t wait.
How has your fan mail been since winning the NJP Girls Clip of the Year this Spring?
Winning NJP Girls Clip of the Year was so amazing, and I couldn’t have done it without my friends and family. Thanks to them my votes went through the roof. My new nickname is Flying Alicante and my family loves to see me playing my heart out on the court.
Tell us about the coaches or mentors that have positively influenced your volleyball career…
Justin Beaumont, Carly Watermen, Artem Makarenko, and all the coaches at Side Out Sports have been the key reason I love the sport of volleyball. Their love of the sport reflects on their coaching skills, and they always push me to be my best. Justin has had me playing up an age group since I first tried out at SOS and his faith in me to be able to play at a higher level has made me work harder. My high school coach Michael Scheuermann is a great coach who is a big part of why the Trojans had such a successful season in spring 2021. My strength and conditioning coach, Dean Zonkowski, always pushes me to become stronger and is the reason why my vertical keeps increasing.
Who motivates you?
My family motivates me to work hard every day. Tough games and losses keep me working hard every day as well.
What is your favorite place to compete?
I love playing in Dallas for the Lonestar Classic, Orlando for AAU Nationals, and D.C. for Capitol Hill.
What mental tool do you use under pressure?
I make sure to focus on the next point and to focus on my breathing. I don’t want to overthink what is going on so I try to keep things simple.
Do you think attitude is a factor in winning? I think attitude is a huge part in winning. Your attitude towards each part of the game and each point is what gets you to where you want to be. Your attitude controls your work ethic and your decisions.