October 5, 2021 – By NJP

Freshman Maia Cinca is a major part of a Notre Dame youth infusion that may lead them to their best record since starting the program in 2014. Cinca is a 6′ middle, who also plays outside, that has a high level of talent and an even higher level of potential. Cinca along with fellow freshman Cassady Smith, have flipped the script for opponents who expect the Irish to be an easy win on their schedule. This is the beginning of major movement toward Notre Dame becoming a power in the BCSL.

Maia has made an impressive first impression on the NJ high school volleyball community. She has size, a high level of athleticism, and a passion for the game. Despite her youth, she has fit in as a leader on a squad that has totally embraced the new youthful talent.

Cassady and Maia have shot to the top of the team stat list with Smith responsible for 66 kills, 39 digs and 18 aces and Cinca providing 62 kills, 24 blocks, and 30 aces. This is a dynamic duo for an Irish team that benefit from both of these top players for the next three years.

Volleyball is a full time commitment for Cinca as she plays club volleyball at CJVA as well as Beach volleyball during the summer and indoors. She was part of the USA Volleyball High Performance program last season and is taking advantage of every opportunity to continue to hone her skills. Maia is a top recruitment candidate in NJ for her class year and will get a lot of attention as she progresses through her high school career.

But for now, we can enjoy watching Maia play at the high school level while she improves her skill, as well as the skills of her teammates around her.

Here is our interview with Ms. Cinca…

How are you, Maia? Thanks for joining the NJP player interview club. Tell us a bit about yourself? (What school do you attend, what town do you live? What year are you graduating? Tell us about your family? etc.)

My name is Maia Cinca. I am currently a freshman at Notre Dame High School and I am graduating in the class of 2025. I live in Hillsborough, New Jersey with my Mom, Dad, older brother, and younger sister. 

How long have you played volleyball and what inspired you to take up volleyball initially?

I have been playing volleyball for six years. I initially started playing when I was 9 years old, in fourth grade. At the time my friend was going to do a beginners camp at a local volleyball place in our town. She convinced me to come along because I was already very tall for my age and I instantly became hooked.

What are your metrics/details? Height, vertical, position, club team, etc. What is your favorite position to play?

I am a 6 foot middle for Notre Dame High School and Central Jersey Volleyball Academy. My standing reach is 7’10 and my vertical is 18 inches. While I do enjoy hitting and passing when I am an outside, my favorite position to play is definitely middle. I love hitting and blocking and the setter-middle connection is amazing. 

Tell us about your Irish teammates. Who do you expect to be this year’s standout players in the Fall?

I thought being a freshman on varsity would be really scary, having to play with upperclassmen, but my teammates were all welcoming from the very start. Lots of the returning varsity players are definitely great assets to the team. Specifically I think our setter, Christina Lenzo, and fellow freshman Cassady Smith are standout players this fall. Already, within the short time I have known everyone, I can tell this team has a bond like I have never experienced before. We work hard while still having fun, continuing to grow together. 

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 would love to play volleyball in college. I haven’t begun the process of finding colleges to look at or deciding what I want to study yet, considering I just started my freshman year in high school. Currently, I could see myself at any sized school or location.

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What an outstanding first year at varsity you are having this year as a freshman. What are your goals for your remaining three years at Notre Dame?

During my next three years at Notre Dame, I want to become more of a leader on and off the court and make more of a contribution to the team. I hope to improve my skills in middle but also become more versatile on the court.

Have you participated in the High Performance programs run by GEVA and USA Volleyball?

Yes, this year was the first time I tried out for the high performance camp and I made it to both of the weekends, it was a great opportunity. In this little amount of time I definitely learned a lot about being a middle, different plays to run, and how to make everything fluent on the court.

Tell us about your experience playing beach volleyball?

My time during beach volleyball really helped me with indoor. I did multiple camps and tournaments for beach. Playing beach is definitely harder than indoor. Although, the hard work paid off by helping with my quickness on the court.

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Tell us about your club volleyball experience this past year?

This year was a great growing year for the team. We all bonded on and off the court and helped each other become immensely better volleyball players. Because of COVID, we weren’t able to go to as many tournaments as in a usual year, but we got in as many practices and working hours as we could.

Do you think attitude is a factor in winning?

Yes, attitude is definitely a very important factor in winning. When I play I like to always keep a very positive attitude no matter what happens in the game. Sometimes, and my teams have definitely experienced this, we start to get inside of our own heads and psych ourselves out before the next point even happens. I think that having a good attitude towards yourself, your abilities, and the game is the most important of all. 

Tell us about the coaches that have positively influenced your volleyball career…

In the short time that I have known my high school coaches, Anthony Carpenter and Jenna Arimenta, I have already learned so much from them. They help me learn how to adjust on the court against different types of defenses and be more strategic with my attacks. They also always make sure our energy as a team is high no matter what. 

Where is your favorite place to compete?

My favorite place to play volleyball is during our games when we are home at Notre Dame. The fans are screaming for every point and there is always energy in the air. The feeling of everyone cheering is unbeatable.

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