Setting up for success

Lisa Gera
Juan Villa / The Collegian

Lisa Gera is the type of player and person who makes a coach proud.

“Lisa is a fighter and doesn’t give up,” said Ruben Nieves, Fresno State women’s volleyball coach. “She keeps competing no matter what the scoreboard says or who is on the other side of the net or who is next to her on the court. She’s a personality and a player. You want her on your side when you are trying to win.”

Gera, a 20-year-old sophomore business and marketing major from San Jose, said she just wants to be involved in sports in any way she can.

“I love sports,” Gera said. “I play intramural basketball in the winter and wiffleball in the summer. I love watching Fresno State football and the players pursuing their dreams but I don’t know what I would do without volleyball.”

Elementary school friends introduced her to the sport.

“In fifth grade, all my friends wanted to try a new club,” Gera said. “I was a big time soccer girl but I was kind of burnt out. Volleyball was less running than soccer and it was new and exciting.”

Gera graduated from Archbishop Mitty High School in San Jose in 2005 and wanted to stay on the West Coast college.

“During her senior year of high school, Lisa contacted me and told me she applied to Fresno State,” Nieves said. “We went and watched her play. We saw that she was good so we invited her to come play with us.”

As a coach, Nieves noticed the special qualities Gera brings to the team.

“Lisa is a very good competitor,” Nieves said. “When she steps into the volleyball gym, not only does she want to win, she strives to do things as well as she can. She is willing to work at it. To me, that’s special.”

Nieves said Gera has the natural skill, technique and ability to control the ball, as well as the intelligence to understand how volleyball is played and what it takes to win a rally.

“Lisa is our best digger and back-row defender,” Nieves said. “She brings a certain toughness to the court. It takes toughness to put your body on the line and hit the floor when necessary.”

Gera began her stint on the team as setter, but was changed to defensive specialist in order to help out the team.

“Lisa is a naturally gifted setter,” Nieves said. “She’s bright and understood the position change was the best way to get playing time and put herself in a great position in this program to play an important role.

“Setter is a glamour position and defensive specialist is not. She was open to trying a new position and understood it would help the team. The way she approached it made me very proud and appreciative.”

To Gera, the position change just means that she wears a different colored jersey — being part of a team is what matters most to her.

“Being part of a team has made me way more disciplined,” Gera said. “I have to be somewhere all the time and there are grade checks all the time. But it has improved my communication and people skills and made me a competitive person.”

Playing with her sister Lacey, who is 15 months younger than her, is part of the fun she has on the court.

“Lacey is an awesome player,” Gera said. “She knows I have her back. I really enjoy it.”

Nieves describes Gera as social and loves being part of a team, not just for the sport, but also for the friendships.

In her little spare time, Gera said she likes to play Nintendo, laser tag and go to Boomers with her teammates.

“You would not believe how much athletes act like little kids,” Gera said.

Nieves insists Gera brings maturity and quality to the court and the community. Gera has been the Student Athlete Advisory Council representative since last year, and also participates in READ Fresno as well as events at Valley Children’s Hospital in Madera.

“I am proud of the way Lisa leads in community service projects,” Nieves said. “She enjoys interacting with children and seeing her enjoy it and understand her part as a division one athlete and role model in our community makes me proud. She represents us well.”

Gera said she has three objectives for the season: more wins, a better place in the WAC and ending the season with no regrets.

“We are a young team and we are rebuilding the program,” Gera said. “We want to continue getting better.”

Nieves said Gera’s future as an athlete at Fresno State looks promising.

“Lisa has the right amount of self-confidence,” Nieves said. “She believes in herself and has the skill to back it up. She is enthusiastic and a real leader in terms of keeping team spirit high. She understands it’s more challenging to be enthusiastic when you lose and how important that is to team success.”

Previous Story

Time to step up

Next Story

Black Tuesday marks protest for school employees