A 3,743 mile journey: Uluave finds a new home at Wichita State

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A 3,743 mile journey: Uluave finds a new home at Wichita State

Wichita State freshman Sina Uluave goes up for a kill during the exhibition game against KU on August 17 at Koch Arena.

Wichita State freshman Sina Uluave goes up for a kill during the exhibition game against KU on August 17 at Koch Arena.

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Wichita State freshman Sina Uluave goes up for a kill during the exhibition game against KU on August 17 at Koch Arena.

Khánh Nguyễn

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Wichita State freshman Sina Uluave goes up for a kill during the exhibition game against KU on August 17 at Koch Arena.

From an early age, Sina Uluave learned about the importance of family. Growing up in Honolulu, Hawaii, with four siblings, she learned how “tight-knit” family can truly be.

For the first time in her life, Uluave is away from her home — 4,000 miles away, to be exact. She said adjusting to the distance has been tough.

“It’s been difficult,” Uluave said. “Nothing comes easy. Just being positive and being with my teammates all the time has made it fun. They keep you busy. Once your mind is busy, there is not much to think about. I haven’t been homesick that much.”

Uluave said she tries to FaceTime her parents every other day.

“Communication is key,” she said.

Growing up, sports were always apart of Uluave’s life. Her family was always active, so she naturally drifted towards playing sports. Throughout high school, she played three different sports — basketball, track and field, and volleyball.

Around eighth grade is when Uluave said she knew volleyball was the sport for her and a passion she wanted to pursue in college. It was all about the feeling she got when she was on the court, she said.

“Just the feeling I get on a kill on the outside and a big play happening and when the team comes together and celebrating,” Uluave said. “It just felt good, and that’s how I knew.”

Like everything in her life, volleyball revolves around family in more ways than one. Her mother played college volleyball and then went on to coach her daughter throughout her years of playing club volleyball.

“She was my coach, mentor, and mom,” Uluave said.

Wichita State wasn’t always the plan for Uluave.

In November of her senior year in high school, she committed to Rider University in New Jersey. Ultimately, she de-committed from Rider in early March and was left in a tough position.

Since she ended up de-committing so late, Uluave had to find a school — and quickly. That late in the recruiting season, not many schools had scholarships left to offer.

That’s where Wichita State and Head Coach Chris Lamb came into the picture.

“Coach Lamb was one of the few coaches out there who was still looking for a 2019 outside,” Uluave said. “So I got really lucky.”

In the exhibition against the Kansas, Uluave received her first-ever collegiate start. She said she had some butterflies as her name was introduced for the first time in Koch Arena.

“I was really nervous,” Uluave said. “I knew Wichita was known for having a really good crowd, and running out of the tunnel with the lights and loudspeakers, everything is really nerve wracking.”

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Wichita State junior Emma Wright and Sina Uluave go up for a block during the exhibition game against KU on August 17 at Koch Arena.

In the contest against KU, Uluave tallied two kills and four digs while starting the first three sets.

This summer, the Shockers lost 13 players. But Uluave said she feels the team has the right mixture of veterans and newcomers to make an impact this year.

“I think it worked out pretty well. We all just found our people,” Uluave said. “The returners would help the newcomers, the newcomers would stay with each other and adjust together. It just made everything much easier.”

Uluave said her volleyball IQ has improved greatly since she arrived at WSU.

“I thought I knew a lot, but after listening to Coach Lamb in practices and the knowledge he has on blocking, footwork, passing, reading, all of that — there’s way more to it than I thought,” she said.