By Jordan Zuniga
On July 7, former Hawkeye volleyball player Ashley Mariani signed a contract with the German team VfBSuhl OTTO Thuringen to start off her professional volleyball career.
Her new team plays in the Bundesliga, and it finished last season with a 5-17 record, barley making the playoffs and getting eliminated after the first set.
VfBSuhl hopes that the addition of Mariani can help the team succeed in the coming years.
As she has done for all of her 11 years playing volleyball, Mariani’s jersey will have No. 4.
The 6-1 middle blocker will join the team in September; she is excited to join her new team as well as experience the culture.
“I can’t wait to see what the competition is like in my league,” Mariani said “I also can’t wait to travel around Germany and the rest of Europe every chance I get. I really loved that the team is in a smaller town so that I can really submerge myself into the culture there. The people there really support and love the their team, just as the Hawk fans do, and I love that.”
This will not be Mariani’s first time playing volleyball in Germany. Last summer, she had a chance to play in Europe with a summer-league team.
The Arlington, Texas, native transferred to Iowa in her junior year after spending her first two college years at Tennessee.
Over Mariani’s two-year stint at Iowa, she racked up 442 kills and 33 service aces, leading the team in service aces as a junior.
“My career at Iowa has definitely prepared me to do the best I can possibly do overseas,” Mariani said. “The coaches helped teach me what I need to do to succeed, and now it’s up to me to continue what I’ve learned from them.”
“We are so proud of Ashley’s transformation as an elite-level middle hitter during her time as a Hawkeye,” Hawkeye head coach Bond Shymansky said in a release. “Her exposure on our team tour last spring opened her eyes to professional volleyball opportunities. We are at the forefront of a proud tradition of developing professional athletes at Iowa, and I know that Ashley will have a big impact on her team this season.”
Before she heads over the Atlantic to Germany, Mariani will take a trip over the Pacific to Taiwan to represent Team USA at the World University Games, an opportunity she is very excited about.
Aside from the volleyball, the team will get to do some exploring as well as taste the different cuisines.
“I cannot wait for the food,” Mariani said. “I’ve heard that the food in Taipei is amazing. I also can’t wait to have the letters USA on my jersey. It is such a big honor to represent the U.S.”
Right now, all of Mariani’s focus is on this upcoming tournament, doing everything she can to get ready
“I’ve been working out on my own doing some weight training, conditioning, and just getting my hands on a volleyball every chance I can,” she said.
The tournament will take place Aug. 18-30. Immediately after that, she will join her team in Germany to prepare for the start of the season.