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Senior Profile: Diaz a dominant force at the net
Being 6-feet, 2 inches as a 17-year-old is a distinct advantage for a high school athlete — especially when that athlete is female.
Add in fluid athleticism and dedication to a sport and a dominant force is born.
Pierce High middle blocker Mariah Diaz presents a difficult challenge for opposing hitters with her ability to rise above the net.
"I've always done sports since 5th grade - basketball, volleyball and soccer. But I started focusing on volleyball as soon as I got into high school and I started doing club volleyball," said Diaz, who played club volleyball in Davis during the past off-season.
Height runs in the family. Her father, Ray, is 6-3 and her mother, Maryann, is 5-8. Her older sister, Morgan, 18, is 5-10 and played volleyball for Pierce last season before graduating, and she has two older brothers, Andrew, 19, and Alex, 21, who are taller than 6-feet.
Having Morgan just one grade ahead of her in school provided the sisters with the opportunity to play together on the same teams throughout their lives.
"I think (Morgan) and I have always had a special bond and we're basically not only sisters but best friends. We have the same best friends and we get along great... for the most part," Diaz said with a laugh.
So far this preseason, the senior Bear is averaging 2.6 kills and 1.7 blocks per set.
Diaz joins forces with senior middle hitter Natalie Corona, who averages nearly two kills and a block per set, to create one of the better middle tandems in the area.
This year the Bears have five sophomores on the team and just four seniors and two juniors; Diaz embraces the leadership role.
"We have Haleigh (Shadinger), Natalie (Corona), Hilary (Brainard), we're the four amigas," Diaz said about the tightly-knit senior class. "I think all four of us seniors have been best friend since 7th grade."
It hasn't been easy this year, especially with Pierce's tough preseason schedule, which included a trip to the Red Bluff Invitational last weekend where they played last year's Division III champions Enterprise of Redding.
The Bears entered the tournament with an 8-4 record but suffered losses to Del Norte, Enterprise, Trinity and West Valley, but losses against those teams will help them when Sacramento Valley League play begins.
Diaz sat out the basketball season last year but went out for track and field where she took second in the league in the long jump with a leap of 13-feet, 5 inches. This year she is considering a return to the basketball court.
After high school, Diaz wants to play volleyball at a community college, though she doesn't know where just yet. She is hard at work researching her options while striving to achieve a 4.0 again this semester after getting straight A's in the spring semester.
CONTACT Kirk Barron at email@example.com