Carleigh Cruz and Paula Alferez sign National Letter of Intent to Hope International University


Photo by Victor Lozano/ El Paisano

May 11- Left: Carleigh Cruz, Right: Paula Alfred of Rio Hondo College’s Beach Volleyball team both officially signed their letters of intent to Hope International University and will continue their athletic and academic careers in Fullerton this Fall.

Crystian Mendoza, Sports Editor

After formerly committing to Hope International University April 20, both Carleigh Cruz and Paula Alferez of the Rio Hondo College Beach Volleyball team officially signed their National Letters of Intent May 11 to play volleyball in Fullerton next fall where they will continue their studies while playing at the next level.

Cruz and Alferez were the only Rio Hondo College beach volleyball players to make it to the second round of the State Conference Playoffs, and were also recently honored with All-Conference Awards after stellar performances this season.

When asked how both players felt after finding out that they received All-Conference honors after Head Coach Teddi Esko surprised them with the news, Cruz said “I feel like we accomplished something this season, we had a hard off season and season but we still played and gave it our all. Our conference was pretty difficult this year, but now we can say that other teams and coaches recognized us for our hard work.”

Cruz and Alferez recall being the shortest duo at their State Conference Playoffs, but still managed to showcase their abilities while not only winning over the respect of opposing teams and coaches, but random supporters as well.

“We feel accomplished to be a part of this program and for us to be that first team for Rio Hondo to come out our first year, go to state then the second year get this Duo All-Conference Award, it’s just a privilege for us to be here and we’re grateful,” said Alferez as she felt completely honored to be a part of the first duo team at Rio Hondo College to get that award for beach volleyball which is still new to Rio.

With the program being so fresh, the Lady Roadrunners ended the season with an overall record of 5-15 and suffered a conference record of 0-12. Nonetheless, both Cruz and Alferez familiarity with each other after knowing one another for so long breathes a sigh of relief as both players are completely excited to continue the next chapter of their lives together while staying close to home. “We’ll work together very well, I feel like there’s things in indoor volleyball where she can tell me what I’m doing wrong and what I’m doing right and it’ll be positive encouragement. Then I can do the same for her in a good way when beach season comes around,” said Cruz as she is ecstatic to have her teammate there for support and vice versa.

Alferez followed by saying, “It’s just that connection that we’ve grown throughout these years and now that we’re able to continue it together academically and athletically, it’ll be fun I’m excited.”

A familiar face can definitely make the transition to the university level of competition on the court as well as off of it a lot easier to handle, and both Cruz and Alferez are appreciative that they will have each other’s support throughout their journey at Hope International University.

When asking both players if getting to this level was something they thought was possible with the beach volleyball program being new at Rio, Cruz said, “Our first year it was more for fun, we knew it was thing but we weren’t really aware we were going to state or that we could even actually go, and just us going to state is something we didn’t think was possible until we were there. Then this year, that’s all we wanted to do now that we knew all the ropes and everything we just wanted to accomplish going to state.”

After having a successful state competition, “Your confidence after having such a successful season, we come out with that light under us saying there’s more in us and that we can reach our full potential, so when we came back out to indoor [volleyball] it kind of adapted us into that competitive drive that we got during beach season,” said Alferez in regards to the encouragement she felt afterwards.

With the season and semester now coming to an end, Cruz will be leaving Rio Hondo College with a degree in Business Administration meanwhile Alferez will be getting an Arts degree, and they will both continue to pursue those fields in Fullerton.