By Michael Liptak
PUEBLO, Colo. (October 20, 2015) – In the spring of 2011, Colorado State University-Pueblo redshirt senior Alex Sansavera stood at a crossroads while being recruited. The San Antonio, Texas native was looking at St. Edwards University (Texas) as a potential landing spot to continue her career, but things fell through and she needed to broaden the landscape of her search.
Thanks to an assistant coach at St. Edwards, who was friends with CSU-Pueblo's newly-hired and current head coach Jen Gomez, they orchestrated the two discovering each other. Feeling a little unsure because of how late it was in the recruiting process, once Gomez contacted her, she came out to Pueblo immediately to meet with Gomez and see the University. The visit proved to pay dividends.
"I came here, met Jen and toured the university and I kind of fell in love with (the University)," said Sansavera, also adding Coach Gomez's vision for the program was what helped her in choosing CSU-Pueblo.
Besides the lengthy recruiting process, Sansavera ran into other obstacles in her collegiate career, this time fighting off the injury bug during two different periods of her career. In her redshirt freshman year, Sansavera hurt her shoulder and in 2013 re-injured the shoulder which kept her out of action for six months.
"I've never had an injury before that required surgery. I've had many injuries before, but nothing like that before. That was pretty difficult for me because I wanted to be on the court as much as I can," said Sansavera. "Not being able to work on my skill, get better and be around the other girls in the Spring made the rehab process difficult."
On the court, Sansavera faced another challenge when she arrived at CSU-Pueblo. She had to learn a whole new position. She played libero her first two years after never playing the position in her career. Sansavera went back to her natural position as setter in 2014, but what made it possible is her presence on court.
"She has great court awareness and has been able to fill various roles for us from being a libero to a starting setter and team captain," said Gomez. "Alex is a player that just puts her head down and goes to work."
The work hasn't gone unnoticed by Gomez either.
"She has grown so much from 2011 in her confidence and ability to be a leader. That's what I love most about coaching is watching players like Alex who came in as a redshirt freshman, who was kind of quiet and reserved, and now is a good leader and a very experienced player for us."
Being the oldest on any team comes with the old references, with Sansavera it's no different.
"We call Alex grandma," said senior middle blocker and second-year teammate Oni Lattin. "It's because she's been here the longest and she just gives it her all, all the time, to the point where she's just broken down sometimes. It's like oops, there goes grandma, she dove again, is she gonna get up?" Lattin added laughing.
In all seriousness though, Lattin called Sansavera a, "Phenomenal teammate."
"She's supportive, a leader, and doesn't shy away from saying what you need to hear. She's definitely the quarterback of our team," said Lattin.
As for this season, part of it has been frustrating for Sansavera. The ThunderWolves have been very competitive in their matches and it shows statistically, but closing has been difficult, which has been the frustrating part. Even with the frustration, Sansavera is still optimistic.
"We're at a pivotal point in the conference where other teams are losing to teams they shouldn't be losing to, so I think we can turn it around and turn it into a Cinderella story, we can make it into a winning record and go into the conference tournament and make a difference," said Sansavera. "The season isn't lost, that's what we need to keep putting in our head and that's what we're doing at practice."
With this being Sansavera's last season, every week when she's reminded of how many matches she has left, she's amazed by how fast the season and her career has gone, and it gives her an extra boost each week in practice to try and turn the season around.
"I want to make it better. I want to make it a year to remember with this team, go out with a bang and end my volleyball career on a high note."
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As a member of the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference, Colorado State University – Pueblo competes in 22 varsity sports in NCAA Division II intercollegiate athletics.