Written by Cynthia Papailler, Staff Writer
At 6 ft. tall, Susanna Peonia stands out in the crowd.
The Italian born volleyball player is starting off this year in the spotlight as she was voted as All-GSC on the preseason polls, an honor only 7 others received throughout the Gulf South Conference.
“I feel awesome,” Peonia said. “It’s always an honor to be selected. It’s eight players out of a conference with every team being 12 players and there are six or seven teams. It’s a great way to start the season.”
For the first time in her life she is the oldest player on the team and is taking the leadership role for her fellow teammates.
“For me, it is very overwhelming and it is also a practice for me to handle these type of situations,” said Peonia, “People come to you asking what to do, for me it is all very new.”
Peonia is no stranger to dealing with the unknown. The Castel Bolognese, Italy native recalled a story of when she moved out with her sister at the age of 17. She talked about the difficulties of having to care for her 14 year-old sister and balancing school and volleyball.
“We moved out and that year was just really hard on me,” Peonia said, “I switched from playing middle to the right side—so one position to the other. I was really down that year, but my sister and my roommates helped me out. So that year I was like ‘Alright! I can do it! I have to get myself together!’”
Peonia started off playing many different sports and her baseball-playing father played a large role in encouraging her. She also attributed her success to her other family members, her boyfriend and one of her volleyball coaches.
“I started when I was 12,” Peonia said, “I played softball and I swam for like six months; I didn’t really like it so then I started volleyball. I wasn’t really that talented, but I was tall. I was really lucky that I had this really good coach back home that really invested a lot time into me.”
The atmosphere of playing volleyball is an aspect that Peonia says she enjoys. She describes herself as socially awkward, although her teammates would describe her as the opposite. She enjoys the company of her team and attributes them to why she does so well.
“One thing that I enjoy about volleyball is that it is a team sport,” Peonia said, “I would never be able to play an individual sport because I know where my mind goes. Sometimes I need someone to tell me ‘Hey, relax! You got it!’”
She said some of her goals for this year is to become an All-American and to be All-GSC. As for her team, she hopes that they continue to build on their communication and teamwork. Peonia believes that the GSC’s preseason polls prediction of VSU finishing in 3rd is pretty accurate, although she is striving for better.
“Even if it’s my senior year, it’s a new experience for me because for the first time in my life, I am the oldest person on the team,” Peonia said, “That’s extremely exciting and scary for me because I know that my teammates look up to me and I have to be there for them. So even if I’m scared or if I’m not doing great, I just have to fake it until I make it and be there for them. At the same time, I know my teammates are always there for me.”