Following a strong junior season, the Bishop Moore grad is tearing it up for the Rollins College volleyball squad.
The volleyball court is a refuge.
It is a place she can escape from the stressors of school and the real world — and it’s also a place for her to vent with force.
You wouldn’t know it from just talking with Bri Civiero, the soft-spoken Mount Dora native who plays on the Tars’ volleyball squad, but there is a competitive fire that burns deeply. So deeply, in fact, that it’s what led her to volleyball.
Between the ages of 9 and 14, Civiero was an outstanding junior tennis player — tearing it up on the green and blue courts instead of her now usual wooden volleyball courts.
But thanks to the temper of the young Civiero, that path was cut a bit short by her mom one day after she had tossed around one too many rackets.
“I’ve had anger issues in volleyball, too, before, but it’s worse when I play tennis,” said Civiero with a grin. “So I go play tennis to work out those issues and then I go back and play volleyball.”
The routine and passion of playing four years of collegiate volleyball, with a small dose of tennis on the side, has molded Civiero into an impressive player and leader on the Tars’ team.
In her freshman year, Civiero asserted her presence quickly. She started in 24 of the 27 matches she appeared in — impressive for such a young player. She also was named to the All-SSC Freshman Team following the end of the season.
Although the stats and honors from that first season show a player of fortitude, Civiero said she was a bit of a nervous wreck, feeling as though she was going to fail as a college volleyball player. Thankfully, there was help and inspiration from former Tars player Jessica Wilson.
“I roomed with her for camps before we got here, and I think she just really set the tone for me of what to expect and how I should come into this program, and what I should give to be successful,” Civiero said. “I thought she was really influential for my time here at Rollins.”
Since that quick start in 2014 — and the help she received from players such as Wilson — she has gone on to tear it up on the court.
“In January, I’m
going on an
exposure tour in Europe, because
I want to play
professionally over there — I’m trying to not be an adult for as long as I can.”
As a junior, she had the best year of her college career as she racked up a slew of recognition for her solid play as an outside hitter for the Tars, including being named AVCA All-American Honorable Mention, All-SSC First Team, and All-South Region Team Honorable Mention.
Stat-wise it’s pretty easy to see what gained her such attention.
Civiero ranked 11th in the conference with 374 digs. She collected a team-best 483 kills throughout the 2016 season, and her 4.03 kills per set was the third best in the conference. In a game against Nova Southeastern, Civiero recorded her 1,000th career kill as a Tar.
Everything Civiero has been able to do the last four years is impressive considering she didn’t become truly serious about volleyball until 10th grade — where she started looking into club ball.
With her quick growth as a player, Civiero transferred to Bishop Moore her junior year to hone her playing skills and take in the academics that the school had to offer. In her two seasons as a Hornet, she helped lead the team to an impressive 62-0 record and two back-to-back state titles in 2012 (at 4A) and in 2013 (at 5A).
Her play during that time caught the attention of coaches at Rollins, and by the middle of her junior season, Civiero had committed to play for the Tars.
“I knew I wanted to stay close to home, and knew I wanted to play DII,” Civiero said. “I just knew there is a great academic program here, and that was really important to me, so it just all worked out.”
Although not everything has been easy for her since joining on to play for the Tars — especially as it relates to the three coaching changes that she has seen in her four years — Civiero still has been able to thrive thanks to her dedication to the sport and positive coaching up from head coach Mika Robinson.
Although her college career is coming to a close, Civiero is hoping she will have a chance to continue her volleyball career on another level — preferably somewhere overseas.
“In January, I’m going on an exposure tour in Europe, because I want to play professionally over there — I’m trying to not be an adult for as long as I can,” Civiero said. “I just think it would be a great opportunity to play the sport I love and I would love to live in Europe, so all around, it just seems great.”