Last spring, Camas High School’s Emma Villaluz committed to play volleyball for Oregon State University. She had a tremendous high school with the Papermakers, with several accolades to show for it. Villaluz is a two-time Greater St. Helens League Player of the Year, team MVP in 2018 and 2019, and four-year letter winner at CHS.
When Villaluz committed last May, there were many unknowns about the COVID-19 pandemic. At that point, nobody knew how the Beavers season would be impacted. Unfortunately, the season was canceled in the fall and postponed until the winter.
Villaluz said, “When we were able to play we were the only conference that had to play in masks, which made things a lot more difficult for us, but in the end, I think it made us a stronger team. We also were unable to play in our last game against Utah due to a Covid exposure. We understand that sometimes things don’t work out.”
On top of all the struggles that were presented by the pandemic, she was unable to play this season due to a wrist injury.
“The day before the season started I fractured my wrist and I tore my tendon. I was super excited after waiting almost a year to be back on the volleyball court and play in a game, but accidents happen,” she said.
Villaluz described the culture of Oregon State volleyball as “young and driven.” She believes that this program has a bright future and the potential to accomplish great things.
“With seven freshmen on the team, we are very young and inexperienced. When we first came to Oregon State we had no idea what to expect and what was expected of us. I think it is pretty cool though because there is a lot of potential for this team since a lot of our starters are freshmen,” she said. “We had a bit of a rough start to our season this year, but with a team of all freshmen players and a lot of injuries I was not disappointed As a team we have learned something new from each game and I’m super excited to see what the fall has in store for us.”
When she got to Corvallis, Villaluz had to make some adjustments in order to play at the division one level.
She said, “One of the biggest adjustments that I had to make to play Division 1 volleyball was being confident in my abilities as well as adjusting to the speed of the game. The Pac-12 conference is one of the most competitive conferences for volleyball and even though I came from a club that still played at a high level it’s nothing compared to what I saw in our gym.
“When I first came to the gym and started to play with the older group of girls it was a big wake-up call for me in the sense that I had to be very disciplined in everything that I did. Everyone there is a very good player and you have to believe that you are too,” Villaluz added.
Despite the strangeness of this year and her battles with injury, Villaluz is excited about the upcoming fall season. She shared some of her personal goals.
“My individual goals for this season are personally my health. Since I was unable to play in our last season due to injury I’ve been trying to do everything I can to get back on the court. Whether it’s training outside of practice or doing my own PT (physical therapy). It’s been a very long process but I know I have to be patient and hopefully, this will all pay off so I can play in the fall season.”
Villaluz shared the team’s goals for next season as well.
“Team goals for the remainder of the season are to stay healthy, be consistent, be competitive, and have fun. We had a lot of injuries this season due to the lack of players and over swinging. However we have some freshmen coming in the fall that will help a lot with the toll on our bodies.”
She added, “We also want to eliminate errors we can control. At this level you cannot afford to be making silly mistakes and have to be very disciplined with every skill. My coach always says the best players aren’t the ones that just go through the motions, but the ones who take the simple things seriously. This is something our team likes to incorporate with everything we do. On top of all the volleyball, you cannot forget to have fun, it’s a big reason why everyone is here in the first place.”
Villaluz credits CHS volleyball program and coach Michelle Ford for helping her prepare for the college level. She is grateful that she was able to play different positions throughout her high school career, which made her a more versatile player overall.
Villaluz said, “By playing different positions I was able to understand how each position worked and the importance of each one. It has made me a well-rounded player and helped me a lot with my ball control skills. My coach used to always tell me how he likes that I’ve played different positions because it makes me a better player and it also gives him the opportunity to move me around to wherever I need to be on the court.”
“CHS has also taught me how to work with others and be a good teammate. I miss the program and all the girls. I hope that one day I can come back and see them!” she added.
Villaluz shared a message to aspiring CHS volleyball players.
“Work hard and have fun. High school goes by super fast and make the most of it,” she said. “Go Papermakers!”