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Hispanic Heritage Month: Raymariely Santos

BY ANDRES FOCIL
Hispanic Heritage Month: Raymariely Santos
The University of Arkansas Athletic Department is celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month from Sept. 15-Oct. 15, with a series of stories highlighting several of our student-athletes with Hispanic and Latino American backgrounds. We will be publishing a series of stories each Wednesday during the month-long even letting fans get to know selected student-athletes and how their heritage impacts them. Check back each week for new stories.
FAYETTEVILLE – From her setter position on the court, Razorback junior Raymariely Santos has to see it all: where her hitters are, how the defense across the net is set up. So far, so good. Through the first half of the 2012 season, her assessments have been solid as she’s helped lead Arkansas to a 14-4 overall record and a 5-2 mark in Southeastern Conference play. As one of the three team captains for the Razorbacks, along with senior Amanda Anderson and fellow junior Emily Helm, Santos is in a role of leadership for her team. From that position, the Ponce, Puerto Rico, native has brought experience and passion to the floor every time Arkansas is in action. “I’ll always have that passion for what I do,” Santos says. “I love to be successful and watch my team be successful. Every time I see them smiling on the court or having fun while we’re playing, that completes me as an athlete and as a teammate so why not keep doing that if it feels good.” In addition to everything she’s learned during the first two and a half years of her collegiate career, Santos can also rely on the lessons she learned while playing with the Puerto Rico National Team prior to coming to Fayetteville. During that time, she was part of a team that played at the Grand Prix events in Brazil, Japan and Thailand and NORCECA Championships. Santos helped the team earn a silver medal at the NORCECA competition, the first-ever medal for the nation at the tournament. Through that experience, she also caught the eye of Razorback head coach Robert Pulliza who recruited Santos to join his Arkansas team for the 2010 season. The Puerto Rico pipeline has been strong for Pulliza and has produced four current Razorbacks–Santos, Ana Sofia Jusino, Janeliss Torres-Lopez and Ashley Vazquez–that have been part of the Puerto Rico National Team system. “Having a scholarship and being able to come to the United States to play volleyball and get my degree was one of my dreams,” Santos said. “I’ve been playing volleyball basically my whole life and through the (Puerto Rico) national team, I met Robby. He saw me playing in a tournament and then he came to a practice in my hometown. We got in contact after and that’s how I committed to Arkansas.” So who did Santos and other players from Puerto Rico look up to while they were growing up? That’s an easy answer that elicits a big smile and echoes the answer of
Torres-Lopez. If you were growing up in Puerto Rico as a volleyball player, your eyes were fixed on Aury Cruz. Like Santos, Cruz was a standout for the SEC during her collegiate career at Florida (2000-03) where she was a three-time AVCA All-American. “She is an amazing person and a great friend,” Santos says. “Obviously, she’s a great role model because she’s professional in everything that she does. It’s really easy to look up to her. She knows what she’s doing and been through all this before.” Through the first 18 matches of her junior campaign, Santos is averaging 10.45 assists per set, 2.43 digs per set and 1.17 kills per set. She is currently second in the conference with 10 double-double performances. Santos has also directed the Razorback offense to a .260 hitting percentage, good for 29th in the NCAA. There is one thing you won’t see her do on the court: cross the service line with a ball in her hand. “I guess I just don’t like to touch the line until I have the ball,” Santos says with a laugh. “I’ll wait inside the court until I have it. I’ve been doing that for a long time, not really sure when it started. When I get the ball, then I’ll go.”


Sports Category : Volleyball (W)