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Volleyball found hidden gem in Deja Harris

SDSU+junior+middle+blocker+Deja+Harris+sets+up+for+a+spike+against+Loyola+Marymount.
SDSU junior middle blocker Deja Harris sets up for a spike against Loyola Marymount.

SDSU junior middle blocker Deja Harris sets up for a spike against Loyola Marymount.

Photo Weicheng Han

Photo Weicheng Han

SDSU junior middle blocker Deja Harris sets up for a spike against Loyola Marymount.

by Sydney Northcutt, Contributor

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If you follow SDSU Athletics on Twitter, have ever been to a San Diego State women’s volleyball game or follow Mountain West Conference volleyball in general, chances are you have heard of junior middle blocker Deja Harris.

She’s mentioned quite a bit.

At 6-foot-2-inches, Harris possesses a dynamic skillset that allows her to dominate not only the front row but the service line as well.

But there’s much more to Harris than her presence on the court.

In the present-day volleyball world where most collegiate athletes begin playing as early as elementary school and specialize in volleyball by the time they reach middle school, Harris defies the norm.

Harris only began playing volleyball her freshman year at Calvary Chapel High School, a small Christian school in her hometown of Las Vegas, Nevada.

Even rarer, Harris only began playing club volleyball for Vegas Encore as a junior in high school. Harris also played center and forward on Calvary Chapel’s basketball ream. It was a hard pill to swallow at first for her former pro-basketball player mom when Harris chose volleyball.

“I thought with volleyball I could show off more of my talent,” Harris said. “I jumped pretty high and I could use more of my strength in volleyball. There’s just more going on (in volleyball), it’s more competitive.”

Once Harris centered her focus on volleyball, the offers started coming in, but one stood out.

“I had my criteria listed out. I don’t like the cold, so I cut out the east coast,” Harris said. “I wanted my family to be able to get to my games pretty easily. I have four sisters and I wanted to go somewhere my whole family could drive or fly to.”

Harris always had the athletic gene on her side. Her mother, Merelynn, was a professional basketball player in Europe and in the WNBA, as well as a member of the Canadian Olympic team. Her father Adrian played football at University of Nevada Las Vegas. The experience and guidance her parents gace proved valuable to Harris’ own athletic career.

“My parents have always pushed me to try new things,” Harris said. “Having them by my side when choosing a school was so helpful. They were able to guide me through the process; I don’t know where I would be without them.”

To add on to the ranks, Harris’ little sister Alexis is on the volleyball team as well.

“It’s so much fun. We’re best friends, we’re super tight. We both made varsity as freshmen so we’ve played together for a very long time,” Harris said.

She said she is looking to stay in the sports field when her time at San Diego State is over. Pursuing an interdisciplinary studies major, Harris hopes to become a sports psychologist at a university.

Harris been successful on the court and has proven to be a star in the MWC. Harris was named to the All-Mountain West team which traveled to Europe and played Croatia, Austria and Germany, among other national teams Harris also played for the U.S. Collegiate National Team-Minneapolis Program over the summer, part of USA Volleyball’s High Performance pipeline which is considered a second tryout for the U.S. Women’s National Team.

“It was an amazing opportunity.,” Harris said. “I got to meet a whole bunch of talented girls who totally expanded my game. I’m a baby when it comes to volleyball and they taught me so many things. My confidence level skyrocketed and meeting so many amazing girls really upped my game.”

Harris has proven herself a valuable asset to not only the volleyball program but the Aztec community as a whole.

With two years under her belt, look for Harris to continue to flourish and fill up the highlight reel.

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