Player: Allyssa Rizzo
Hometown: Crestwood, IL
MSU Volleyball has come a long way in the past few years, and Senior Libero Allyssa Rizzo has been a huge part of that progression. Her leadership and competitiveness on and off the court is impressively apparent, as she is not only one of the top Liberos in the NCAA but also an excellent student. She has made the All-Big Sky Conference Academic honoree list every year she’s been in Bozeman. Additionally, she is a very humble person who cares deeply for her teammates and university. Rizzo will be leaving Montana State as one of the all-time great volleyball players in program history. Catch Rizzo and the rest of the Bobcats Thursday, Oct. 3, and Saturday, Oct. 5 at 7 p.m. in Shroyer Gym when they take on the University of Idaho and Eastern Washington University.
Being ranked 5th in digs per set in the NCAA, what are your personal goals for the season?
I’m more focused on our team doing well at this point in my career. I’m blessed and lucky because I have gotten the opportunity to become more comfortable on the court for the past three years since I have always been a starter, so for me it was always just my job to get digs, but at this point, it’s my senior season and nobody is going to remember me (laughs). If we are a conference championship team then we will get remembered, especially in this program because we have never been there before, so hopefully my digs help.
MSU has won four of the last six after pre-season tournament play, what do you see as being the reason for this improvement?
I think we are just growing and learning how to communicate with each other. In the beginning, we struggled with controlling our emotions and there were a lot of highs and lows. The highs were super high, but when the energy died it was like we had trouble pulling ourselves out of it, and now we’ve been working as a team to find that consistent energy. We are looking to find that fine line between confidence and cockiness, attentiveness but not overthinking.
Being a senior in the nursing program, how do you balance academics and athletics?
I couldn’t do it without the people around me. My coaches are providing my volleyball schedule and my nursing program people are providing that schedule and they are working together to make it so that my life is as simple as possible, but it depends on the day. Some days I am like, ‘This is so much, why did I want this so bad?’ Then I realize that it is such an incredible opportunity and I am getting what I want in both areas. I am very passionate about both, but the support is really how I do it and if I didn’t have that cooperation and advocates there would be no way I could do it.
What is your favorite thing about the Nursing program at MSU?
Definitely the clinical experience. For me to be able to be in the hospital and practice what I am going to be doing, I just feel like I am constantly learning and it’s such a great feeling, I feel like a kid again. It’s something that really sparks my interest where I knew absolutely nothing coming into the program. Going in everyday, nobody expects me to know anything and I am just constantly learning and interacting with people. Plus the people in the program are awesome.
With a roster evenly split with underclassmen and upperclassmen, what is some of the advice you have been giving to the younger gals?
Us seniors talk about this a lot because it comes from that senior perspective knowing that this is it, this is our last chance to leave something remarkable and leave our legacy which we talk about all the time. We have been telling the younger girls to treat every season like it’s the one. You have to. You have to believe that every year. It’s exhausting, it’s a lot of pressure, and it’s going to feel like too much. It would be easier to back down but you just have to fully invest yourself because you blink your eyes and you’re a senior.
What will you miss most about Bozeman?
I am going to miss the town itself and college athletics overall. I always tell people that if you would have asked me my junior year of high school if I would be going to school in Montana, I would have said no. I just didn’t know, and coming here has been the biggest blessing, just the support of the town, and people just love life. They are so active and outdoorsy. People actually take time to smell the roses. If I go back to the city, I feel like that’s something I’ll miss.