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Former Volleyball: Priscilla Lima - Louisiana Athletics Hall of Fame Class of 2019
From Brazil to Acadiana and all over the world, Lima has brought a special attitude to volleyball
Dan McDonald, Special to RaginCajuns.com
LAFAYETTE - It's safe to say that Priscilla Lima took a roundabout way to Louisiana Athletic's Hall of Fame.Athletic Network Footnote by Dr. Ed Dugas
Brazil … Acadiana … California … and now Florida, and at every stop volleyball was the one constant.
But the brand of volleyball that Lima became a standout in the professional ranks was very different from the one she played when she was a middle-blocking force at the net for the Ragin' Cajuns – and not just because the level of play was higher.
After a career in which she was a two-time All-Sun Belt Conference selection, a frequent pick as the league's Player of the Week and made her mark on several career statistical lists, she made the big jump from the indoor game to beach volleyball, which she had dabbled with in the junior ranks.
"I prefer beach because I'm a ball hog," Lima said "I never stopped going back indoors, and that's still fun because the game is so fast, so powerful. But 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."
Along with that bikini, she also wore the mantle of high-level performer on the world beach volleyball stage for a decade and a half. Lima began playing beach on a full-time basis in 2004, just over a year after she finished her storied Louisiana career, and made her presence known first on the Brazilian Beach Tour in her native country.
Later on, she played professionally on the NVL, AVP and FIVB World Tour while remaining a part of the Brazilian National Beach Team. She and partners recorded numerous top-five finishes in all of those leagues along with the Branco de Brasil Tour, and among those wins are victories over players such as U.S. gold medalists Kerri Walsh and Misty May-Treanor.
"Priscilla is one of the best athletes and one of the best personalities in all of the volleyball world," said Kerri Walsh Jennings, a three-time U.S. Olympian and gold medalist in 2004, 2008 and 2012.
As recently as 2012, she and partner Renata Ribeiro – a fourth place finisher in the 2008 Beijing Olympics – were ranked fourth in volleyball-happy Brazil.
"When I first started I got my butt kicked by some of the greatest players in the game," she said. "Big names like Holly McPeak were in their prime. I was blessed to step into that area, and the learning curve was that much faster. You just get in, do the best you can, live in the moment and train hard."
The work ethic was never an issue with Lima during her collegiate career. In three years under coach Chris Campbell and a final year under Becky Madden, Lima finished her career with 1,228 kills and 1,187 digs, both of which still ranks in the Ragin' Cajuns' career top five. She also ranks among the single-season leaders in kills (381), attacks (1,006) and points (448 ½) in her senior year when she earned her second All-Sun Belt and All-Louisiana honor.
"I was primarily a middle blocker, but I also played on the back row," Lima said. "Wherever I was needed, that's where I wanted to be. I just always played as hard as I could and tried to keep everyone accountable. That's who I am, I bring 100 percent to the court and I hate it when the team's not playing at that same level."
It's that front row-back row versatility that's helped her beach career, something that might not have happened if she hadn't stumbled into the sport at the relatively late age of 15 in Brazil. Before that she was into dance – "especially flamenco dancing" – and team handball, where she earned a high school letter.
"It was love at first touch," she said. "I started super late. I was very lucky to get into club volleyball at that age, and I was really well trained. Once I started, I wanted to play all the time."
She's now passing that accumulated knowledge to others, something she did while in Acadiana when she was part of the Southern Spikers and put on camps at several surrounding high schools. During the latter part of her pro career, she was an assistant coach at Eckerd College in St. Petersburg, Florida, and is still in that city as director of the Optimum Volleyball Club.
"I get to coach both beach and indoors," she said. "I love the sport, love to be around the gym helping young players."
Click here for Priscilla's Athletic Network profile.
Click here for the Hall of Fame Announcement.
Click here for Priscilla with her early fan club.
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