The immediate volleyball future of high-leaping Madison Oriskovich has been left up in the air by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The next four years, however, are falling into place just as the San Marcos High senior had envisioned them four years ago … with a soft landing on the sands of Malibu with the Pepperdine women’s beach volleyball team.
“I’ve wanted this since I was little,” Oriskovich told the News-Press after committing to her future school. “I walked in there for a summer volleyball camp when I was in eighth grade and said, ‘Mom, this is where I want to be, this is where I want to go to college.
“It’s a real family there. I felt it when I was there in eighth grade, and I felt it now when I went for my visit. Along with the awesome academics and sports, it’s a great place to be.”
But Oriskovich, a 6-foot left-hander who hits from the opposite position, has also been left high and dry by the coronavirus. It suspended her beach volleyball season with San Marcos last spring, and it’s now reduced her workouts with the Royals’ indoor team to simple conditioning drills.
The long-delayed season, which was expected to start in just 11 days, has been put on indefinite hold by the California Interscholastic Federation.
“It’s been a little frustrating, but I’m honestly grateful that they’re taking the precautions that they are, just to make sure everybody is safe,” Oriskovich said. “Tina (Brown) and Dwayne (Hauschild, San Marcos’ coaches) are very on top of things.
“You have to hand-sanitize every few minutes, and everybody has to keep their masks on. You have to stay on one side of the court. It is frustrating that I can’t have the season that everybody had last year. But in these times, I’m just glad that everybody is taking the precautions and being safe.”
She speaks with the voice of the health professional she aspires to become.
“I’m really interested in sports medicine,” she said. “I really want to give back to the sports community and help younger athletes, people like myself, and make sure their bodies as well as their minds are well taken care of.
“I like helping people and I really like sports, so I want to go into that area.”
The Royals had high hopes for this season, returning 10 players from last year’s 21-7 team. San Marcos shared the 2019 Channel League championship with Dos Pueblos and advanced to the CIF-Southern Section Division 3 quarterfinals.
The veterans include Oriskovich and her senior classmate, Taylor Wilson, both of whom were voted to last year’s All-Channel League team. Wilson, an outside hitter, has signed her own national letter of intent to play beach volleyball at Stanford.
Four other returning Royals received all-league honorable mention: senior hitter Brooke Moore, senior middle Fionna Pennington, junior setter Ava Cole and sophomore middle Riley Green.
They went from simple conditioning to regular workouts a month ago but were pushed back into the more restrictive Phase 1 protocol this week by the state’s stay-at-home order.
“It was really nice to play and have a rally instead of just doing drills with only one ball,” Oriskovich said.
She’s from an athletic family. Her father, Dan Oriskovich, was an All-Big East tackle for the Boston College football team during the mid-1990s. Her older brother, James, plays water polo at UCSB.
“Being able to play in college, it’s been a dream,” she said.
Although the girls’ indoor volleyball season will now start no earlier than January, the CIF office has kept the ending dates the same: Feb. 30 for the regular season and the weekend of March 12-13 for the Southern Section playoffs. The CIF State office has canceled the state tournament, which would’ve been held on the weekend of March 19-20.
Beach volleyball, a sport now sanctioned by the NCAA, remains outside the CIF’s purview. San Marcos is a member of the Interscholastic Beach Volleyball League, an organization that plans to hold its season from March 8 to May 15.
“I don’t really know how they’re going to work it out this year,” Oriskovich said. “I think they’re just going to push beach (volleyball) a little farther out so they’re not overlapping with indoor volleyball.
“A lot of girls who play beach also play indoor. But it’s going to be what it’s going to be, and I’m just going to make the best of it.”