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Ms. Priscilla "Pri" Lima
Graduated 2002


, CA


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Email: optimumbeach@gmail.com

Spotlight of Former Athlete: Priscilla Eckstein Lese Lima – Volleyball 1999-2003

Lima: From Rio, to UL, to the beach

By Bruce Brown

Written for Athletic Network

Priscilla Lima admits she got a late start in volleyball, but she has still made a life in the sport.

After shining for UL’s Ragin’ Cajun women’s program from 1999-2002, the Rio de Janeiro native is still going strong on the pro beach volleyball tour as well as coaching new young talent in the sport.

All this from an athlete who didn’t hit the court until age 15.

“That (age 15) is an almost impossible time (to start) for Brazil,” Lima said. “I started super late. I was very lucky to get into club volleyball and I was really well trained. I was able to catch up in a year.

“I was into dance until volleyball. Especially flamenco dancing. I also played handball for one year, and earned a varsity letter in school.”

But volleyball was her destiny.

“It was love at first touch,” Lima said. “Once I started, I wanted to play all the time. (She still does.) I don’t remember anything else. My ball control was really good, and I had good knowledge of the game. They made me a middle hitter.

“My coaches kept me up at the highest level of the game.”

But Rio is a little off the beaten path for recruiting, especially with a limited budget, so how did Lima become a transplanted Cajun?

“I was at a club practice,” she said, “and a former assistant at UL who had played for my coach visited and said you could play in America and go to school. I had no idea what recruiting was like – I do now since my wife is a Division II coach – and I asked if I could come in 1999 instead of 1998 since my mom was expecting my younger brother.

“Can you imagine? What if there had been changes at UL? It was really meant to be. After he was born, I didn’t see my brother for 2 years. It took me one semester to adapt (to college). It got easier.”

Lima quickly excelled for the Cajuns, and a dozen years later still ranks fourth in digs and fifth in kills on the school’s career charts.

“I was primarily a middle blocker, but I also played on the back row,” she said. “Wherever I was needed, that’s where I wanted to be.

“I never felt like I was the leader. The leader is your captain. I always play as hard as I can. I kept everybody accountable. I felt I was the voice on the team. I bring 100 percent to the court, and I hate it when the team’s not playing at that level.”

The Cajuns were a combined 46-43 during Lima’s first three years, coached by Chris Campbell, then 15-14 under Becky Madden in 2002. Lima earned All-Sun Belt Conference and All-Louisiana accolades for the program.

“The first year, the team was really good, but we could have done better,” she said. “As a sophomore and junior, I would think about what we could accomplish. Becky Madden brought me back to a higher level of volleyball. We were undefeated for two years at home.”

While at UL, Lima was introduced to beach volleyball at Lafayette’s Volley Beach facility, and fell in love all over again.

“You need to be well-rounded, an all-position player in beach volleyball,” she said. “The skills are the same; it’s just adapting. It’s harder to move, at first, but you develop ‘sand legs.’ It’s a bigger court to cover, and you have to have every shot.

“I never stopped going back indoors. The game is so fast, so powerful. It took two weeks for me to get back into indoor shape. But, I prefer beach volleyball, because I’m a ball hog. It’s like chess. I love the challenge to run the full court, and you only have to rely on just one other person.

“It’s what I do. And, when I go to the office, I wear a bikini.”

As recently as 2014, Lima paired with Karolina Sowala for five victories in the NVL (National Volleyball League). She was named Most Improved Performer in 2009 in the AVP (Association of Volleyball Professionals) and is going strong 5 years later.

“When I first started, big names like Holly McPeak were in their prime,” Lima said. “I got my butt kicked by some of the greatest players in the game. I was blessed to step into that era. The learning curve was that much faster.

“My first tournament, I was a No. 72 seed. You needed five rounds to qualify, and I met the No. 16. The next tournament, I qualified, and since then I’ve never failed to qualify.

“You get in, do the best you can, live in the moment and train hard. I was so blessed that it took off so fast. All I was thinking about at the time was the now.”

Living in the moment has worked for a lifetime in the sport, and there is much left to do.

“I had no idea how long I would play,” Lima said. “I never know if I can make it. All I know is that I need to be better than last year, the last tournament.

“(Playing) 15-20 years is very do-able. Players play into their 40’s or late 30’s, because it’s easy on the joints. Many hit their prime then.”

Lima is married to Michelle Piantadosi-Lima, the head volleyball coach at Eckerd College in St. Petersburg, Fla., who is a former star player for the Tennessee Volunteers. They were friends through the sport for 7 years before becoming a couple.

When she’s not on tour, Lima runs the Optimum Volleyball club in St. Petersburg.

Florida has a flourishing beach volleyball culture, second only to California in that regard, and the pair is well positioned to thrive.

“I get to coach both beach and indoors,” said Lima, who said her spare time often involves volleyball games with friends. “I love the sport, love to be around the gym helping young players. I’m learning the business side of it as I go.

“It’s a great adventure, a dream come true.”

And a long way from Rio.

Jan., 2015 Spotlight Feature of Former Athlete

* * * * * * * * * *

Update July 22, 2010 – Pri’s contact information is below.

Facebbok: AVP Pro Priscilla Lima
Twitter: AVPProPriLima


Wanted to let you know that this past weekend we beat the 2x gold medalist Misty May-Treanor and her partner Nicole Branagh (9th in the Olympics). With that win we went straight to the quarter finals of the Hermosa Beach Open where we finished in 5th place.

Also Last year I finished 3rd in the nation and that’s why got MIP Award from them. I went from 12th to 3rd in 5 months.

Here is a press release from this weekend:


This email from Priscilla Lima on July 13, 2010

Hi Ed!

I hope you have not forgotten me!! 🙂
Just wanted to drop some line and let you know I miss UL dearly and everyone I met there!

I’m in the middle of my season now, living in CA and playing the best volleyball of my life!!!

If you want to keep up with me, you can check my website: www.PriLima.com

Hope all is well… Send me some news!


Facebbok: AVP Pro Priscilla Lima
Twitter: AVPProPriLima


* * * * * * * * * * * *

I played all my 4 years of elegibility for the volleyball team. My first year was really good, I had 3 other Brazilians with me and a made so many friends. My second and third were alright on the court, but my friendships were growing and growing.
I started working for Southern Spikers Volleyball Club and working at Team Camps at High Schools everywhere: from Breaux Bridge and Beau Chene, to ESA, STM, and many more. My senior year was the best of all!!! Not just beacuse I was a senior, but I had the best coach ever!!! She helped me so much and I made All-Tournament in all four tournaments that we played during pre-season (Mc Neese, UT, Texas A

March 16, 2005

* * * * * * * * * * * *

Lima takes shot at beach game
Eric Narcisse

August 31, 2004

LAFAYETTE – As a young girl growing up in Brazil, everyone around Priscilla Lima knew that she would one day be a volleyball star.

And although she didn’t begin to play the sport of volleyball until she was 15 years old, Lima proved everyone correct.

Lima starred for the UL Lafayette Ragin’ Cajuns volleyball team from 1999 until 2002, recording the fifth most kills and digs in school history with 1,179 and 1,187, respectively.

With her collegiate volleyball career over and done with, Lima then turned her attention toward her next goal – earning a college degree in America, which she did this past May.

Now Lima has returned her focus back to volleyball, but this time as a professional beach player on a pro tour.

“I’m trying to get on the pro tour,” said Lima, who has run volleyball clinics at Beach Volleyball on Moss Street to help fund her trips. “Ever since I began playing volleyball, I have dreamed of playing beach volleyball professionally. The only reason why I didn’t earlier was because I was playing in college.”

Lima participated in a four-man beach volleyball tournament in Destin, Fla., where she received what she called “an opportunity of a lifetime.”

“It was a tournament just for fun,” Lima said. “But afterwards a lady named Mary Hegarty asked if I wanted to be her partner. She told me that I didn’t have to worry about anything except my flight. I figured I had nothing to lose, so I said OK.”

Lima and the 42-year-old Hegarty’s first tournament was in San Diego, Calif. where in order to garner one of the four to six open spots in the tournament, they needed five victories.

“We lost in the third round of that tournament,” Lima said. “We were seeded third to last in that tournament, so we knew it was going to be tough.”

In their next tournament, the Belmar Open in New Jersey, where they needed only three victories to qualify for the tourney, Lima and Hegarty pulled it out by winning their first three matches.

“I was extremely excited when we got into the tournament,” Lima said. “I always wanted this type of opportunity, but I never really knew how to go about getting in. But it felt good to get in.”

That marked the final tournament in which the tandem would participate together, because the 24-year-old Lima received a better offer from a player with a higher ranking in 28-year-old Kerrie Eich.

“Kerrie had more points and by playing with her I knew that the bracket wouldn’t be as tough,” Lima said. “It was really nice of Mary to ask me to play with her, but I’m trying to get my name out there as quickly as possible.”

In their first tournament together, Lima and Eich were seeded 16th, and after winning their first three matches in the qualifier rounds, they qualified for the Hermosa Beach Open in California. Lima and Eich lost their opening match, but rebounded with a victory in the loser’s bracket before being ousted in their next match.

“We trained and worked together for a week,” Lima said. “I was very excited to be seeded 16th in that tournament. To say that it was our first time playing together, I’d say we did well.”

Lima and Eich will look to build on what they accomplished in California this week when they leave for the Chicago Open in Illinois.

“I’m anxious,” Lima said. “Of course I want to win and make it to the main tournament, but I really just want to play well.”

The Lafayette Daily Advertiser