Yes, Cienega's Stephanie Mendivil can reach 10 feet into the air. And, yes, she's led the Bobcats to the volleyball playoffs each of her first three years on varsity.
But, that's not what makes Mendivil, a 6-foot-3-inch, 16-year-old outside hitter so valuable.
Mendivil, who will play at Rice University next year on a full scholarship, has made an impact on the Bobcats program off the court as much as she has on.
"She will leave her mark on this program for years to come," coach Heather Mott said. "Not because she was a Division I outside hitter; she'll leave her mark on this program because of the citizen she's been in our program.
"Obviously she'll leave her mark as a player but it's going to be far more in the character column."
The Star recently sat down with Mendivil, who skipped second grade, to find out how she has balanced volleyball and being one of the top students in her class:
• On the court: 4.6. Last season as a junior, Mendivil had 450 kills which translated to 4.6 a set. She said she wants to get more kills this year, "I definitely think I'll be able to beat that 450."
• In the classroom: 4.83. That's her grade-point average based on a 4.0 scale. Mendivil said managing her time and, of course, studying a lot has helped her achieve that. She's very interested in math and science and said AP calculus is her favorite class.
KEYS TO SUCCESS
• On the court: Teamwork and communication. Even though she's the biggest on the court, she knows she's never alone out there. She said there are usually touches by three different people each time so everyone needs to be on the same page. Plus, Mendivil is working with sophomore setters McKenzie Mott and Kassidy Johnson, so communication is a must.
• Off the court: Having fun. Mendivil said she tries to make sure it's not all about school and volleyball. "I try to squeeze in fun with my friends so it de-stresses me a lot," she said. "So hanging out with my friends and then going to do my homework and my workouts, just adding little bits of fun make things less stressful."
• On the court: Mendivil knows she'll be playing volleyball for the next four years at Rice but she's not looking past that right now. She also had offers from the Arizona Wildcats, San Francisco and Wichita State. "I'm not sure where volleyball will take me," she said.
• Off the court: Mendivil wants to study pharmacy but there isn't a pharmacy program available at Rice so she said she's going to major in chemistry and then continue on to a pharmacy program elsewhere. "It'd be cool to come back here but I don't know if I'd want to go on to a different city and start a new life after college volleyball," Mendivil said.
2012 watch list
• Kassidy Crawford, Sr., Sahuaro
• Mykaela Hammer, Jr., Ironwood Ridge
• Sara Hohenstein, Sr., Ironwood Ridge
• Haley Howell, Sr., Salpointe Catholic
• Madison Irwin, Sr., Catalina
• Kerry Lane, Sr., Canyon del Oro
• Stephanie Mendivil, Sr., Cienega
• Taylor Reiter, Jr., Rincon/University
• Courtney Spalt, Sr., Sabino
• Carly Trueman, Sr., Tucson
Selections made by Star staff in consultation with area coaches.