A Clovis East women’s volleyball player signed to play for San Jose State University last week during a signing party in the high school’s gymnasium.
Thaliana Grajeda, 17, plays middle blocker for the Timberwolves. She chose San Jose State after meeting the current team and coaching staff.
“My biggest goal was to take volleyball to the next level, and when I got there what really stood out to me was how much of a family the team was,” she said. “The coaches cared about you not just as a player, but as a person.”
Grajeda has played volleyball since she was a fifth grader.
“I think the best thing is how intense it gets and the high speed of the game,” she said.
Most of the seniors on the team have played together since middle school. This year was the first time in Clovis East’s history that they the women’s volleyball team won the TRAC, Grajeda said.
“We really worked for that and we pursued it with everything we had,” she said. “We gave it our all.”
Their biggest goal now is to win the Valley championship, Grajeda said.
ATHLETE SIGNINGS Thaliana Grajeda was one of 26 Clovis Unified standout athletes who signed national letters of intent with colleges this month. Congratulations to: Buchanan High Hannah Waller, track and field, University of Oregon; Donovan Mitchell, basketball, Wake Forrest; Jordan Arruda, baseball, Fresno State; Grant Gambrell, baseball, Oregon State; Rachael Arkelian, volleyball, Fresno Pacific University; Danielle Rodriguez, volleyball, CSU Stanislaus; Bree Wellington, basketball, Metro State; Brook Watts, volleyball, Biola; and Tanner Olmos, swimming, Eastern Michigan. Clovis High Taylor Tiger, softball, Long Beach University; Seth Nabors, swimming, Fresno Pacific University; Hayden Mammen, golf, Kansas State University; MiKayla Sodersten, cross country, Oregon State University; Jillian Hatch, swimming, University of Pacific; and Vivian Talmage, water polo and swimming, CSU Northridge. Clovis East Thaliana Grajeda, volleyball, San Jose State. Clovis North Gunner Gardner, wrestling, Hastings College; Blake Hathcoat, golf, St. Mary’s College of California; Matthew Frazier, baseball, University of Arizona; and Lauren Moffett, cross country/track and field, Vanderbilt University. Clovis West Cassidy Clark, softball, San Jose State University; Ashley Cross, basketball, Fresno Pacific University; Matt Elkington, swimming, UC Santa Barbara; Peter Kuest, golf, Brigham Young University; Andrea Mercado, softball, Humboldt State University; and Sarah Snyder, water polo, UC Santa Barbara or UC Irvine.
“We’re taking it one step at a time. We have to focus on each game as it comes,” she said.
Volleyball head coach Vicki Samarin said the team is strong because each player puts the team before herself.
“They hold each other accountable and are also very personally responsible,” she said. “Their success comes from the fact that they’re proud to be a Timberwolf and they want to be successful not for themselves, but for the team. They all want to work for each other.”
Grajeda has been on the school’s varsity team all four years of high school and also plays club volleyball, Samarin said.
Setter Christina Tran and Grajeda are best friends, Samarin said, which has proved helpful on the court.
“It helps when the setter and middle know and trust each other,” she said.
The coach has watched Grajeda work hard and grow as a player.
“She started as this skinny, lanky kid when she came in, but she hit the gym hard and attends all of our summer workouts, Samarin said. “She’s worked very hard and been very successful on her club teams and that’s why she got a scholarship to San Jose State; she has great potential as a collegiate-level volleyball player.”
Grajeda, who maintains a 3.8 GPA, plans to major in biology at San Jose State. She has ambitions to become a sports physician.
Samarin is confident Grajeda will be successful.
“She’s a very disciplined person and a great team player. Thali is definitely deserving of any recognition or awards she receives because she’s just as excited for other people’s successes as she is her own. She’s earned where she is because of her hard work.”
Whatever Thaliana chooses to do, she knows she has the support of her parents, Romeo and Touetic Grajeda.
“They’re the ones who are always standing right behind me, encouraging me in both academics and athletically,” she said.