Jocelyn Urias traveled far to represent WSU

Volleyball was not one of her strengths, but the athlete now leads the conference in total blocks


ABBY LINNENKOHL | The Daily Evergreen

Redshirt sophomore middle blocker Jocelyn Urias reminisces about her early days playing volleyball.

JACKSON GARDNER, Evergreen reporter

Pullman is a long way from home for redshirt sophomore middle blocker Jocelyn Urias, who grew up in Tijuana, Mexico.

Urias has adapted to the rural setting since moving to Pullman in 2015. She has also learned English, played for her national team, and is starting to make her presence known in the Pac-12.

Slotting into a starting role for the Cougars’ volleyball team, Urias has performed well enough to place on top of the Pac-12’s statistical leaders for total blocks, with 102.

She has gone from not competing, to being a key factor in her team’s success.

“I feel like there is a little more pressure for me to play well,” Urias said. “I started out playing well, but then I felt myself slow down, so there is more pressure to produce at the level I was before.”

The emergence of Urias has helped the Cougars win most of their games thus far — something they are quite familiar with in recent years. As a team, WSU has not posted a losing season record since 2014.

Cougar volleyball has also been first or second in conference blocks for the past two seasons, as well as for the 2017 season so far.

Although Urias is not the most vocal player on the team, she stands out on the court as a leader for WSU, describing it as something that shows up through her play.

But Urias’ leadership does not start with her team — she is always demanding more from herself.

Urias began her volleyball career nine years ago in middle school. She admits that when she first started playing, she was tall and uncoordinated. Discouraged by her struggles, Urias almost gave up the sport she now plays collegiately.

From that point on, her volleyball career thrived. She was selected to Mexico’s Junior National Team three times while playing at Preparatoria José Vasconcelos.

Her desire to improve as a volleyball player led her more than 1,200 miles north to WSU.

Urias aspires to play professionally one day. If she wants to make that dream a reality, she knows playing at the collegiate level in America is necessary.

“I knew the level of competition was better [in America] than it was back home,” Urias said. “I am able to get more experience here, so maybe one day I can play professionally.”

Coming from a foreign city with a population roughly 40 times Pullman’s, the similarities are scarce. Prior to moving here, Urias had never even seen snow.

The move did not intimidate her, though. Urias noted Pullman’s close community as something that makes her miss home a little less.

“My favorite part of Pullman is how everyone feels like family,” she said. “It reminds me of home.”