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Official Student Media of Valencia College

Valencia Voice

Official Student Media of Valencia College

Valencia Voice

Pro Volleyball Federation’s Orlando Valkyries Spread Their Wings In Season Opener on January 26

Over 5,000 attend inaugural match, 2-3 loss against Atlanta Vibe
The Orlando Valkyries’ Outside Hitter Jill Gillen, No. 10, serves during the first set against Atlanta Vibe on January 26. (Felix E. Rodriguez III)

Orlando, FL – On January 26, the newest professional sports team to The City Beautiful, the Orlando Valkyries, lost their inaugural season opener against the Atlanta Vibe with a final score of 2-3. After a close game, the Orlando Valkyries battled hard with over 5,000 spectators, ending 12 – 15 in the fifth set. They are preparing for their next home game versus the Vegas Thrill on Saturday, February 10, at 7 p.m. Standard tickets start at $25.

What is the Pro Volleyball Federation?

The Pro Volleyball Federation is a premier women’s professional volleyball league in North America who has recruited a variety of America’s talented volleyball players and coaches from around the globe. Each team has a total of 14 players per roster and 24 games within the season; 12 home and 12 away. Beginning in 2024, the Pro Volleyball Federation starts their first season as a league, playing in major arenas across North America.

On May 24, 2023, it was announced that Orlando was one of the cities to receive a Pro Volleyball Federation franchise for the league’s inaugural season, owned by Florida entrepreneur David Forman. Months later, on August 17, 2023, a name, logo, and colors were announced, debuting the team as the Orlando Valkyries. The name is inspired from Norse mythology as elite warrior women on the battlefield.

Who are the Orlando Valkyries?

The Orlando Valkyries are an American professional indoor volleyball team based in Orlando, Fl., and are one of seven new teams within the Pro Volleyball Federation. Their roster spans a variety of players recruited from the collegiate level and international leagues.

Valkyries’ Head Coach Amy Pauly described the process of selecting the roster for this year’s starting lineup, saying, “I’ve been really fortunate to be at schools where I could recruit worldwide and watch a lot of different types of volleyball. I think that I’ve just been prepared to take over this group of women and recruit this team here. I had to do that all by myself. It was a fun challenge, but it was a good time doing it.”

The Orlando Valkyries’ home is the Addition Financial Arena, located at the University of Central Florida.

Meet the Players

Center of image: Middle Blocker Abby Hansen, No. 19, prepares to bump the ball during practice with her teammates Outside Hitter Carly Skjodt, No. 18, left, and Middle Blocker Blake Mohler, No.7, pictured back right. (Felix E. Rodriguez III)

Middle Blocker Abby Hansen played her senior year at the University of Central Florida. As a full-time student and athlete, she experienced the challenges of balancing her many responsibilities.

“I think they provide a lot of great resources over at UCF and other schools; to help you succeed and manage the 20-hour schedules in addition to the full course load. I think it goes for every university that they provide you with the tools for success,” said Hansen. This is her first year out of collegiate volleyball and into the professional arena.

Hansen describes how her collegiate experience has prepared her for this moment. “I think coming from a lot of different programs with a lot of different coaching staffs, it’s taught me to be very adaptable. Granted, this is the highest kind of performance I’ve been surrounded with, and I think it encourages you to set higher standards for yourself and to continue growing every day in practice.”

Outside Hitter/Opposite Hitter Shainah Joseph, Outside Hitter Adora Anae, No. 14, Libero Paula Cerame, No. 20, and Outside Hitter Aurea Cruz No. 8. (Felix E. Rodriguez III)

Outside Hitter Aurea Cruz, No. 18, a former player for the University of Florida Gators, has played professional volleyball on an international scale. With her experience, Cruz has noticed some differences with other teams compared to the Valkyries. “In Puerto Rico, we have a semi-pro league… And bring all the experiences that I have overseas here…. I know everybody’s earning their spot, especially myself. I’m here to bring a lot of experience; being the veteran of the team and helping whatever is needed to get that victory all the way,” she stated.

Cruz shared advice for young athletes who aspire to play professional volleyball. “Just  being here, keep playing or keep having fun in a sport that is not considered as a job… Volleyball has a lot of job openings, especially for scholarships.”

 

Outside Hitter and Opposite Hitter Shainah Joseph is another former UF player with international experience prior to the Orlando Valkyries. Not only has she played in Asian and European countries such as France, Japan, the Philippines, Taiwan and Bulgaria; she is an active member for the Canadian national team. “I think when you play for your professional volleyball team, the level is a little bit different… We’ve been able to work on connections, work on what kind of game we want to do, what kind of system tactics and finding that connection between teammates,” said Joseph.

Because of her background, she illustrates the capabilities to assist any newcomers in the professional league. When asked if she has assumed a mentorship role, Joseph commented, “I think when we’re playing and at a high level, we’re always kind of a mentor and we’re always having that kind of coaching. We’re helping each other out on any kind of level. I would love for a rookie to come and be like, “Hey, you’re doing this. Maybe try this.”

 

“What you can expect from the Orlando Valkyries is a group of women that leave everything out on the floor. They play hard every point. They’re super competitive. They have big personalities. And I think they’ll just be great role models for the young women in this area,” says Head Coach Amy Pauly.

 

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About the Contributor
Felix E. Rodriguez III, Sports Reporter
Felix E. Rodriguez, III, is the 2023-2024 Valencia Voice Sports and Entertainment Reporter.

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    JesseeJan 30, 2024 at 11:02 pm

    Jill Gillen is going to be great. Omaha has already regretted trading her to Orlando.

    Reply