On Jan. 23, Ohio’s second match of the season, a new face totaled kill after kill after kill for the Bobcats. Fans were used to seeing Tia Jimerson or Lauren Park attack at the net, but who was this new offensive threat on Ohio’s roster?
It was junior outside hitter Mariana Rodrigues. Rodrigues, who was born in Brazil, had transferred to Ohio from Indian Hills Community College, where she earned 1090 kills in two seasons. Since Ohio’s second match, Rodrigues has found a key place in Ohio’s offense, earning 173 kills in 15 matches.
The Post got to talk with Rodrigues about her first season with the Bobcats and what it has been like for her.
The Post: What was it like transferring to Ohio University?
Rodrigues: When I transferred here, nobody was speaking Portuguese so it was a little hard at the beginning, but everybody was helping me and everybody understood me when I couldn’t speak (English), so it’s been really good.
The Post: How is the style of play at Indian Hills Community College different from the style of play at Ohio University?
Rodrigues: (The level of play at) OU is way more fast than my last college. There is no match that you go to where you are like ‘okay we will win.’ Everybody is really good so you really have to play to win. I would say the big difference just in the level of play is the speed of the game, which is really different.
The Post: How has Coach Deane Webb helped you during your time at Ohio University?
Rodrigues: Since I got here, he has helped me a lot. He learned some Brazilian words just to help me during the games when I couldn't understand. He helps me on the court but off the court too because I had a lot of struggles in the beginning. He was always there encouraging me and he never gave up on me, which is the thing that I appreciate the most.
The Post: This is more of a fun question, but what is your favorite place on campus?
Rodrigues: I would say they bike path. I really like just being there, looking at people or just enjoying my time out. … I mean, this year I haven't looked around too much because all this Coronavirus stuff, but so far there.
The Post: You mentioned Coronavirus, which has caused a lot of postponements in your schedule. Would you say that’s been the toughest part about this season?
Rodrigues: I’d say yes, and also, we are playing with masks which is not something really common. It makes the game a little more hard than it actually is. It’s been tough because we’re giving up a lot of things just to be playing. We can’t go home, or be with friends, so it’s really hard.
The Post: You’ve been on kind of a hot streak in the past four matches, earning 18 or more kills in each one. What has been the key to your success this past week?
Rodrigues: I'd say just the confidence that people around me were showing, I think it helped me a lot. Also, as Lauren (Park) was out, she was helping me even more with my mental health every time, saying that I could do it. The coaches are always not putting any pressure on me, (they) just tell me to play my game and do my best so … just the people around me showing that they really believed me.
The Post: When you first joined the team, who was your biggest mentor?
Rodrigues: It’s Lauren Park. Because we are in the same position, she’s the person that I look to and I’m like, okay, I have to do as well as she’s doing. … She has helped me alone when I was struggling at the beginning, just kind of talking to me and helping me when I couldn't do it and when I didn't believe myself, so she's my mentor.
The Post: What has been your favorite moment with the team this season?
Rodrigues: I would say the way we got together to see the (Ohio University) basketball game, that was my favorite moment. We were all together cheering for them and having fun, it was really cool. I think that’s my favorite memory.