Volleyball helps Lozano adjust to Boyle County

October 18, 2004|MIKE MARSEE

From the largest city in the Americas to a small town on the other side of the equator, Bruna Lozano has watched her entire life change in the span of five years.

But one constant has been volleyball.

It is a game she has played for half of her life, one that helped her adjust to the move to a new country and one that has allowed her to use her talents to help her school's team enjoy a truly special season.

Lozano's Boyle County teammates have worked for years to improve their play and make their program successful. But the game might have come a little more naturally for a girl who played in her first organized league at age 8.

That was in Lozano's native Brazil, where she lived until her father's job brought her family to the United States in 2000. Volleyball isn't the national game there - that would be soccer - but it is one that has a prominent place in that nation's sporting life and even its educational system.


"Pretty much everybody does it. You have to do it in school, and there are always teams everywhere," Lozano said.

With so much experience behind her, Lozano does it well. She is the primary setter for a Boyle team that won its first district championship last week and will open play tonight in the 12th Region Tournament at Wayne County against Pulaski County.

"Bruna is one of the best setters in the region," Boyle coach Dana Stigall said. "I think she also has a good view of the court and of the whole game that is difficult to teach girls in two, three, four years."

A period of adjustment

Lozano is among the most outgoing players on a Boyle team that has no shortage of effervescence, but that wasn't the case during her first few weeks in school after her family's move. She didn't have any friends, and she didn't speak English.

"That affected me a whole lot," she said. "It was hard at first."

She was quiet but willing to talk, and she finally started making some friends in her classes. Among the first was Rachel Staub, one of her volleyball teammates.

Lozano said moving from her home in Sao Paulo, with a population of 10.3 million people, to Danville was a shock to the system.

"It was extremely difficult, moving from the big city to a place where you drive 15 minutes to school," she said.

But Lozano, whose first name means "tanned one" - but in Italian, not Portuguese, Lozano said - has mastered English to the point where she has lost her accent. "Everybody else in the family has an accent, so they're like, 'What happened to you?'" she said.

Lozano and older brother Andre both immersed themselves in sports at Boyle. Andre currently plays soccer for Wittenberg University; Bruna is also on Boyle's swimming and track teams, though volleyball is by far her best sport.

Lozano said she has come to love her adopted hometown.

"I really enjoy living here. I call this my home now," she said.

A knack for setting

She feels right at home with her friends on the Boyle volleyball team. She is a junior but already in her fifth year in the program, and she has become an expert at getting into the right place at the right time for a set, then finding the right teammate with the ball.

"I think I'm good enough to get there, and I know where I'm going. I think I understand the position a whole lot," she said.

She is also a strong server.

"I like serving a lot," she said. "I block everything out when I am serving. I'm not aware of anything going on around me."

Lozano's other interests include singing, and she joined five of her teammates to sign the national anthem before last week's district final. But because she is among the most vocal players on her team, whether she is on the court or on the bench, she said it's common for her to be hoarse by the end of a day's play.

"In all the tournaments we've had, I've never had enough voice to finish them," she said.

But she can finish the job on the court, setting to her teammates for spikes time after time. Lozano said she gets a thrill from the kills her teammates make as a result of her sets.

"Watching that kill gets me excited," she said.

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