Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald


Carlini overcomes obstacles en route to successful career

Maria Carlini has gone through a lot in her time in Madison.

"[Carlini] came in as a Canadian having to learn everything here in the States," Wisconsin volleyball head coach Pete Waite said. "Everything was new [to her], and she was always excited about every place we went."

Besides adjusting to a new life in America, Carlini also had to get used to playing a new position on the court. Throughout her volleyball career, she had always played middle blocker and even saw some playing time on the net her freshman year.


But the position was about to get crowded with Amy Bladow and Sheila Shaw already playing as middle blockers, and Taylor Reineke, another middle blocker, ready to come in and contribute right away.

A move to outside hitter was needed.

"If I wanted to get any court time, it meant for me to play at a different position," Carlini said. "The team needed me on the outside. It was really hard because I had always played middle. You think that a hitter [is] a hitter, but it was a huge transition. I am so happy that I'm an outside hitter. I think it was the best decision."

"She made that [transition] very easily," Waite said. "As a middle blocker in high school, we just knew she had a better future as an outside hitter. She made that transition, including the ball handling in the back row which not many people can do."

After starting and playing in every game for the Badgers last year, Carlini was forced to sit out for three games this year, including a match against Penn State, with a foot injury.

"[It was] by far the hardest thing," Carlini said. "You always want to be out there your senior year. You never want to come off. It was really difficult, but you have to do what's best for the team. If I wasn't ready to go, if I wasn't 100 percent, then I would be hurting the team."

However, Carlini has been able to come back strong and help the team get right back in the Big Ten race.

Although she has been a part of a lot of great matches in her career, including an upset of undefeated Hawaii in the NCAA tournament in 2004, Carlini said the sweep of Penn State on Halloween weekend this year has been the most memorable match of her career.

"The game against Penn State had to be one of the best matches I've ever experienced," she said. "The crowd was phenomenal, just having their support. Especially since we got swept in three when we were at their place. To sweep them here was kind of unbelievable. That whole weekend was great."

Now as a senior looking back, Carlini credits former All-American Jill Odenthal for helping her adjust to the difference in the collegiate game.

"Odenthal did a lot. Especially my freshman year, telling me everything is such a different experience," Carlini said. "She just told me to take it one day at a time and remember everything. All the small things that we do every weekend, all the experiences are something that will be remembered forever."

As the team's floor captain, Carlini has tried to pass on the same advice she got from Odenthal to the younger players on the team this year.

"[I] tell them that if you make a mistake, one mistake in practice is not the end of the world," she said. "When you come in as a freshman you think 'Oh gosh, I can't make any mistakes.' Freshman year is the year that you learn the most. It's when you get adjusted to the college game."

And Waite thinks she has done a good job being a role model to the younger players.

"She's been a good influence on [the younger players]," Waite said. "She is always looking out for them, both in the gym and in the classroom. She's been kind of a mother figure sometimes. That is something we look for — that upperclassmen show them what it's like to play for the Wisconsin volleyball team and be a Badger."

With only three regular season matches and the NCAA tournament left in her collegiate career, Carlini said she will miss the team the most.

"Obviously they are going to be my friends for life," Carlini said of her teammates. "Playing in front of the Field House has been an amazing experience. I couldn't have asked for a better school to come to."

And Carlini has never worried about individual accomplishments.

Instead, she has always had a team-first mentality.

"With volleyball, it is such a team sport that one accomplishment for me doesn't really mean anything," Carlini said. "It's just how well this team does. I think that just being on this team and actually just going to school here has been one of the biggest accomplishments for me."

Now Carlini looks to finish her career as a Badger by accomplishing the team's No. 1 goal: reaching the Final Four.

"I think our team has so much potential, more so than we've had in previous years," Carlini said. "For us to make it to the Final Four, it's such a realistic goal. We're all working so hard for it that it's definitely possible."

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