Volleyball Opens Doors For Ole Miss Freshman Seini Moimoi Tongan Native's Road Leads To Ole Miss Through California
Coach Joe Getzin's Rebels and Seini Moimoi open the 2012 campaign on August 24.
July 19, 2012
By Alexa Bode Athletics Media Relations Intern
OXFORD, Miss. - Never in a million years did Seini Moimoi think she'd be playing volleyball at Ole Miss. But this September, the 18 year old from Menlo Park, Calif., will be playing for the Ole Miss volleyball team.
The journey to Ole Miss, and college in general, didn't begin the way it does for many students. Moimoi spent the first seven years of her life growing up in Tonga, an archipelago in the South Pacific that consists of 176 islands about a third of the way from New Zealand to Hawaii.
At the age of seven, her family was able to move to the United States and jumped at the opportunity for their daughter. The goal was to increase her chances and opportunities when it came to colleges and an education.
Little did Moimoi know that she would fall in love with volleyball shortly after arriving in America, and that the sport would help provide the pathway to higher education her family sought when emigrating from Tonga.
She wasn't sure what those opportunities would be, but time and persistence opened doors to bigger and better options.
"At first, I didn't have a ton of offers from big time programs," Moimoi said. "Last September, I posted a YouTube video of my skills and a lot of coaches took note. Shortly after, Coach Getzin flew to California to watch me play, and was very interested. We kept in contact. I committed in March and by April I had signed. It was a very stressful, but fun time for me."
Moimoi started playing volleyball when she was nine years old. Her freshman year in high school, she made the varsity team at Menlo Atherton High School. By her senior year, she was named first team All- League, and also led her team to the state semifinals. Though she played middle blocker four years, she switched to outside hitter during the club season of her senior year, much to the chagrin of interested college programs.
"I had always played middle blocker, but my senior year, when college coaches began to notice me, they wanted to see how I'd perform as outside hitter," Moimoi said. "I'm short by volleyball standards, and most coaches felt I was better suited on the outside."
After moving to outside hitter for the club season, the 5-foot-9 Moimoi received several offers to play at the collegiate level. In the end though, Moimoi said her final decision was easy. When she came for an official visit, she instantly fell in love with the Ole Miss campus, the volleyball coaches, and the players. Moimoi also said she could immediately sense a strong school spirit among the students.
She brings a competitive, hardworking spirit with her to Ole Miss, where she strives every day to improve as a player. In a sport like volleyball, where height is the ultimate advantage, Moimoi finds her motivation in the fact that she is not the tallest player on the court. She is relentless in her quest to become the best player she can be, and always finds something new to improve upon.
"I set goals for myself and won't be satisfied until I've achieved them," Moimoi said. "Obviously I'm not the tallest or strongest girl on the team, so I use that to motivate me to become better. If I see a teammate who is taller or stronger than me is pushing me competitively, I feel that I have to push myself past her. I've always been taught to motivate myself."
Though much of Moimoi's success can be attributed to her determination and constant drive to improve, she also relies heavily on her faith, especially in the final minutes before she takes the court.
"Things can be kind of crazy right before games, so I just like to be on my own and really focus on what I have to do. I tune out all that's going on around me and just pray."
Faith, focus, and family are what led Moimoi to Ole Miss, and she is eager to show everyone what she has to offer. She and the Ole Miss women's volleyball team have high aspirations for this season, with a trip to the NCAA tournament as their ultimate goal.
Seini Moimoi and the Rebels open the 2012 season on August 24 at the University of Miami. Rebel fans can catch the first live action at the home opener September 7 against Alabama A&M.
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