This is thethird in a series of features highlighting Razorback coaches and student-athletes as the University of Arkansas celebrates Hispanic Heritage Month.
By Stephen McGowan, Media Relations student
Adriana Vazquez Roca is a senior defensive specialist for the University of Arkansas volleyball team. The Rio Grande, Puerto Rico, native is currently in her second season as a Razorback where she has been a solid fixture in the back row for the Hogs.
Vazquez has been playing volleyball since the young age of five in Puerto Rico, where volleyball has become a big part of everyday life.
"Volleyball is a very big sport in Puerto Rico," Vazquez said. "There are a lot of professional teams. I started playing when I was a little girl because I grew up watching my mom play and I just love it."
In Puerto Rico, Vazquez was a member of the Arsel club team, which captured two league championships during her time on the squad. A two-time captain, she also earned two MVP awards and an AAU All-American selection. Vazquez first met Razorback head coach Robert Pulliza during a camp at Kentucky while she was a member of Arsel.
"I first met Robbie when I went to a camp at Kentucky, but I saw him again in Puerto Rico where I approached him about finding another school to play volleyball," Vazquez said. "I knew he had a lot of connections and he gave me his card. Then a few months later he called me and asked if I would want to come play at Arkansas."
Vazquez joined the Razorbacks in 2010 alongside one other native Puerto Rican, Raymariely Santos, as part of Pulliza’s second recruiting class at Arkansas. The two newcomers would add to the already present Hispanic culture on Pulliza’s squad in Janeliss Torres-Lopez, a middle blocker from Salinas, Puerto Rico.
"When Robbie first told me about Arkansas, I didn’t even know where it was," Vazquez said. "But after I visited Fayetteville and saw that I would have more people around me that grew up with the same culture and language that I did, I knew I would love it here."
Pulliza would add to the Hispanic culture on his Razorback squad yet again for the 2011 season. He extended his recruiting reach to South America with the addition of junior opposite Roslandy Acosta a native of Vargas, Venezuela.