LIBERAL, Kan. – It’s not very often that you have the opportunity to be chosen to represent your country. Seward County Community College volleyball player Gabriela Badilla has been given that chance.
Badilla, who is from San Felipe, Chile, will play for the Chilean National Volleyball team and represent her country at the 2021 Women’s South American Volleyball Championship being played this week in Colombia. The top two finishers at the tournament will play in the 2022 FIVB World’s Women’s Volleyball Championship.
Badilla, a sophomore, is excited to finally play in the tournament, which was cancelled earlier this year.
“We were supposed to play in February, but it was cancelled because of COVID,” said Badilla, who has been playing with the Chilean National Team for the past two years.
“It’s awesome,” she said of being chosen to play. “It’s a great experience. I’m going to be playing against some of the best players in the world. It’s very exciting.”
Badilla added that she was very proud and it was an honor since she is one of the younger players on the team.
Lady Saints Head Volleyball Coach Geno Frugoli knows that Badilla is an important player to the team but believes that this is an incredible opportunity.
“When I first recruited her (last year) I knew there was a possibility of her playing internationally,” Frugoli said. “We worked it out then and these things are once in a lifetime opportunities. She gets to go and represent her country.”
While the team will miss her during a big three-game stretch, which includes a Region VI conference title rematch with Barton Community College, Frugoli believes Badilla and the team will be better for the future.
“She’s going to play tougher and tougher competition and so maybe when she comes back, she’ll pick up a couple of things and be playing at a much higher level. That could only help us down the road.”
Badilla was named Kansas Jayhawk Community College Conference Offensive Player of the Week for the of August 30. She had 50 kills, with a hitting percentage of .440, and 40 digs in the four matches. In the match against Vernon College, Badilla had 14 kills, a 5.91 hitting percentage and a team-high nine digs.
“She’s growing on what’s she’s learned last year,” Frugoli said. “She’s learning some new tools. She was already very skilled when she came, but I told her that I could add to her game and she’s been open to that. I think (her performance at the Cisco Ranger tournament) was a reflection of all that she has learned.
Frugoli knows the Lady Saints will be miss Badilla during her absence, but believes the team will rise to the challenge.
“(Badilla) is one of those players that is kind of the glue to our team, so it’ll be interesting (to see how we do without her). But the girls know the challenge and it’s time for other players to step up.”