An ace above all aces at Draddy Gym: Julia Menocal makes college volleyball a true Jaspers' family affair – The Riverdale Press

For Julia Menocal, playing on the Manhattan College women’s Draddy Gymnasium as a volleyball player  isn’t just a team sport. It’s a Bronx family affair.
The Bronx resident, the daughter of Valerie and Gus Menocal, began playing volleyball when she was in the fourth grade. Menocal is now a graduate student and captain of the Manhattan College volleyball team. Growing up with a mother who played volleyball and attending both Preston High School and Legacy volleyball club team, she was destined to be a division 1 volleyball star. 
“I met Julia when she was 11 years old and I absolutely knew she was a D1 athlete,” said Joel Sanchez, Menocal’s former coach at Preston High School and Legacy volleyball club. “I made it a goal even before she knew what D1 was to help her get there.”
Menocal has always had a multitude of support from her family, particularly from her mom — a 1986 Jaspers’ graduate and a member of the volleyball team. In addition, Valerie played for the New York Urban Professional League, which she still participates in today.
“I played up until I was five months pregnant with her, so it’s kind of like bred into her,” Valerie said. “She grew up thinking and playing volleyball.” 
Julia doesn’t just stand out because of her 6-foot-4-inch frame, but moreover, for the leadership and positive attitude she radiates on the court. Attending any Manhattan College volleyball game, one can see the drive and enthusiasm she has to inspire her teammates even when the going gets tough.
“She was an outstanding teammate and leader,” Sanchez said. “I still remember our road to the championship in 2016, where Julia spoke to the team during a timeout while we were down. Her words of encouragement, yet tough, focused love and support and led the team to take the lead and we eventually won the match, taking us to the finals!”
Before attending Preston High school, Julia joined Legacy. 
“I recruited Julia for my club because I saw the love she had for the sport at just 11 years old,” Sanchez said. “The focus and a huge factor was when I turned to the stands and I noticed her family. Not just mom and dad, but brothers, uncles and grandma. With that level of family support, I had to reach out…They’re a huge staple in our club!”
Having Sanchez as her coach for both teams worked in Julia’s favor. 
“It was great because I always thought he was one of the best coaches I have had,” Julia said. “I got to stick with him throughout the years and I feel like it helped me develop a lot quicker than another person would with two different coaches.” 
Julia was on varsity all four years that she attended Preston High School. She earned various awards and honors including the “Queens of the Court” award and “Bronx A All-Division honors” as well as several others according to
Since being at Manhattan College, Julia has received the MAAC All Academic Team honor twice, her sophomore and senior year. In addition, she is second in the MAAC for the most kills and points in the 2022-23 season so far with 187 and 221, respectively, for an average of 3.67 kills and 4.33 points per set. All this for a team that is 1-19.
When Julia was first searching for schools to play volleyball, she was recruited by Mauro Miletic, who at the time was the assistant coach of the Manhattan College volleyball team. Menocal received multiple offers to play volleyball at other universities, including Bucknell University. Ultimately, she chose Manhattan College because she got the best of both worlds; being able to be a part of the great engineering program and playing the sport she loves at a division 1 level.
Last spring she graduated with a degree in civil engineering but has made a return for the 2022-2023 season as a graduate student to get one more shot at playing. 
“I felt like I had unfinished business,” Julia said. “It was going to be a new coach coming in and would be a great opportunity for me to get one last season in and help the girls build the team for the coming years, so it was kind of a no-brainer for me.”
As mentioned earlier, Julia was recruited by Mauro Miletic back in 2017. Miletic is now the new head coach of the volleyball team here, at Manhattan College. So, she already had an upstanding, established connection with him, giving her even more of a reason to stay for the 2022-23 season. 
Although the team is not having their best season, they are still fighting with everything they have each and every game. Julia is using her title as captain not only to help lead her team, but to use it as a learning experience as she transitions into a career in the real world.
“It’s been a good experience for me because I haven’t been captain yet,” Julia Menocal said. “Figuring out how to deal with the girls and how to motivate people to get a job done I feel like that’s something that will translate really well into a career atmosphere.” 
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