Lidia Frias, a standout volleyball player at Iola-Scandinavia High School, is now making her mark on the women’s team at the University of Wisconsin-Platteville.
It didn’t take long for her to fit in, as she earned a starting job for the Pioneers early in her freshman season.
“I was recruited my senior year of high school to play for UW-P,” Frias said. “When I first came here, I was definitely not expecting to start. I had a hard transition coming from a small-town program to a university where volleyball is taken much more seriously.”
“I first learned about Lidia when she filled out a recruiting questionnaire for us,” UW-Platteville coach Deb Schulman said. “I saw that she was interested in engineering, so I was very interested in finding out what her abilities were since we have a very strong engineering school.”
Former I-S volleyball coach Charmaine Schreiber also contacted Schulman.
“My assistant and I watched her in a few club tournaments during her senior year and we knew that she would be a great fit for our program,” Schulman said.
It didn’t take Frias long to notice the difference between high school and college volleyball.
“Completely (different),” said Frias, the daughter of Lou and Cara Frias. “I love all the girls I have played with throughout my high school career and would not trade those memories for anything, but it is still different playing with girls who are all there dedicating hundreds of hours to the sport.”
“For the first half of her freshman year, she did not play up to the level we saw her play at in her club season,” Schulman said. “There is a learning curve all young players go through. We worked a lot on her blocking footwork throughout the year. About midway through the year, she began to improve her level of play and finished the season playing very well.”
“College ball is competitive,” Frias said. “Girls have to try out. Some girls make it, but sit out. That can put a lot of stress on a team. We have to get through it, though, because at the end of the day, we want to be as successful as possible. Trusting the coaches is key.”
Setting goals in the preseason, Frias wanted to learn as much as she could and enjoy being on a team that had so much talent. As a freshman, she found herself in the starting lineup within the first couple games of the season.
That isn’t unusual, according to Schulman.
“On average, we recruit three to five players in any given year and we typically have at least one of those players work their way into a starting role,” she said.
“It felt great, but it also came with a lot of responsibility,” Frias said. “I was also a little overwhelmed. There I was, a freshman from little Iola playing against girls that were very talented. I can admit I was intimidated, but I am definitely used to facing challenges.
“I knew that not only could the lineup change at any point, but that I had to work hard to not let my team down when they needed me most,” she said. “The Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference is an awesome conference to play in and the competition is fierce.”
“Her main strength is her blocking,” Schulman said. “She has the ability to go pin to pin and close most of her blocks. She is a natural when it comes to blocking. One trait that I really like about Lidia is that she will play any position at any time and not question why. She goes out each and every day and gives it her best.”
Volleyball is a constant in Frias’ life.
“We have tournaments every weekend and games throughout the week with practices in between all the chaos,” she said. “In spring, we lift and condition every morning and it definitely takes a toll. I would not give it up for anything.”
Frias admits that the hardest part of being a student athlete, is finding a way to balance it all.
“Being a full-time student and having to balance homework and studying with practices can be tough,” she said. “It’s hard to stay sane sometimes. This might be a blessing in disguise simply because I know the real world is never easy.”
Frias, recognized as the team’s leading blocker, has her sights set high.
“My goal is to be All-American before my time is done here at UW-P,” she said. “The best part of playing volleyball is simply that I love the sport and I cannot imagine life without it. It has been one of the most constant parts of my life and has taught me so much about myself in general.”
“The biggest goal I would like to see from Lidia is for her to become a formidable threat offensively in the middle for us,” Schulman said. “Lidia has been an outstanding addition to our volleyball program. She is very strong academically and has a wonderful personality.”
“It is so much more to me than titles and championships,” Frias said. “I love the feeling of being on the court, playing for the girls next to me and doing what I can to help them succeed. I have made amazing friendships through volleyball that I know will last long past college. There is something special about the connections of a team and I have so many of them here at UW-P.”
“We are very fortunate to have Lidia in our program,” Schulman said. “She is wonderful to coach, is a great teammate and will do very well in the tough Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference.”