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Nov. 12, 2013

 “Here we work really hard and I like it a lot.”

Maria Genitsaridi speaks on the work ethic of the Panthers volleyball team (13-14, 5-9 ACC) as they approach the end of their season.

 At 166 kills for the season and 32 blocks, the 6-0 freshman has proven to be a valuable asset to the team.

“Maria not only brings a lot to our team on the court but to our team culture as well,” said Pitt head coach Dan Fisher. “She has adapted seamlessly and provides a very refreshing perspective.”

Genitsaridi has started every match and has put up some noticeable numbers. All of this would be impressive for any first year player but what makes the feats more impressive are that Maria came to the United States just three months ago.

From Crete, Greece, the largest of the Greek islands, Maria always saw a future with volleyball in the United States.

“For us, it’s like a dream to come here and play in the U.S.,” Genitsaridi said. “It’s a big step and it’s a big opportunity.”

A move over the Atlantic Ocean might intimidate some eighteen year olds, but Maria was prepared to make the move.

Prior to coming to Pittsburgh, Maria left for Athens on her own at the age of 17, her first experience living by herself.

In Athens, Maria would find herself spending most of her time practicing or studying when she was away from her family and friends. She says the year in Athens prepared her for Pitt and made the transition more comfortable.

“I spent a lot of time practicing and studying,” Maria said. “I also studied English during my time there and it helped me in the transition of coming to a University in America.”

Teams like Duke, North Carolina, and Florida State are not the only high level competition Genitsaridi has come face-to-face with in her volleyball career as she was a part of the Greek National Team. Genitsaridi first joined the program in 2009 as a member of the junior team and last summer she was selected to compete with the Woman’s National Team.

“I’ve had the opportunity to compete in many games for the National Team,” Maria explained. “I had the chance to play against many good teams. I felt really happy to achieve this goal and play at such a high level. It was good practice and you get better every day.”

While the completion with the Greek National Team was elite, Maria also speaks highly of the talent she faces at Pitt and in the ACC.

“The competition level here is very high, not only in the games but in practice as well,” she explains. “If we can compete at a high level with our teammates we can compete in any games.”

The transition to Pitt has been a good one for Maria as she feels comfortable with her coaches and teammates.

“I really like it here,” Maria said. “The coaching staff and my teammates are like a family. When I first got here, I thought it would feel lonely but my teammates were very close with me and brought me into the family so I didn’t feel lonely and I want to thank them for that.”

Only meeting head coach Dan Fisher just three short months ago, Genitsaridi has embraced everything American culture has to offer. Although Maria misses her home, family, and the free-time a student-athlete lacks, she says America and Pitt offer a high level of competition that she enjoys and the times she has had with the team remind her of home.

The Panthers are happy to have Genitsaridi on board and are looking for big things from her as she continues her career at Pitt.

 “We feel that Maria can develop into one of the top players in the ACC and look forward to watching her progress,” Fisher said. “We are fortunate to have her at Pitt.”

Genitsaridi Makes an Impact for Pitt

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