Grit. Determination. A winning attitude. Those are the traits that come to mind when one thinks of Grizzly Hall of Fame honoree Juliana Nogueira.
"She absolutely hated to lose. She was very determined, and she just had that attitude that we were going to do what it takes to win all the time," Grizzly Volleyball Head Coach Paula Wiedemann said in recalling her star setter from the 2002 and 2003 seasons. "I think it's her grit that sets her apart from our other setters. She has all the personality you want in a setter. She can be demanding when needed, she is enthusiastic, and she loves playing the game. Really, these are the traits you want in any volleyball player."
The 5-foot, 8-inch setter from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, joined the Grizzlies in 2002 and helped guide the team to two of its most successful seasons ever, earning back-to-back second place finishes in the National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) Division I Women's National Volleyball Championship Tournament. Although the hitters from those seasons, such as fellow Grizzly Hall of Fame honorees Edna Chumo and Roselidah Obunaga, captured much of the spotlight, their successes at the net would not have been possible without Nogueira.
"Juliana didn't receive many of the honors her fellow teammates received, but she deserves part of the credit for those honors," Wiedemann said. "She made our hitters like Edna, Rose and Anna Dmowska, Felicia Jones and Jaclyn Orlando better because of her skills on the court. She has a great volleyball IQ. The chemistry between setters and hitters is unique. If they can get along on and off the court, it's magical, and look where it got us – back-to-back finals!"
Nogueira developed her playing skills with the Brazilian club teams Clube de Regatas do Flamengo and Tijuca Tenis Clube before coming to the United States to play for the Grizzlies. She quickly made her mark on the team, recording 209 assists and an attacking percentage of .429 in the Utah Valley State College Invitational during her freshman season. Her efforts helped the Grizzlies post impressive wins over College of Southern Idaho (CSI) and Western Nebraska Community College and resulted in former Grizzly Volleyball Head Coach Trish Kissiar-Knight calling her "the best freshman setter I've ever had."
After helping the Grizzlies win their fourth consecutive Region 16 championship, Nogueira continued to lead the team through the gauntlet of nationally recognized opponents in the 2002 NJCAA National Volleyball Championship, where they picked up wins against Tyler (TX) Junior College, Western Nebraska and Lee College (TX), to reach the finals against perennial national powerhouse Miami Dade College. Although the Grizzlies lost to the Sharks in the championship, the bar had been set for the following season.
In 2003, Nogueira helped the Grizzlies post their best start ever with a 19-0 record and tournament wins at Illinois Central College and Salt Lake Community College, where they beat CSI twice. Nogueira's ability to make great choices and set the ball perfectly on sideout plays made the difference in those victories. One of the greatest wins of the season, however, came in the semifinals of the NJCAA National Volleyball Championship where the Grizzlies once again faced the Miami-Dade Sharks. The Sharks had prevailed in three previous meetings that season, but the fourth time proved to be the charm for the Grizzlies. After a two-plus-hour battle that left both teams exhausted, the Grizzlies trumped the defending national champions 30-27, 22-30, 19-30, 30-25, 15-8.
"This win, for me and I believe for the whole team, was a true national final," Nogueira said of her favorite Grizzly match. "We had so many people cheering for us. Even my mother was cheering with the mascot, even though she does not speak English very well. The atmosphere was perfect. I knew that I was in the right time at the perfect moment and surrounded by people who shared the same wills and wants."
Wiedemann said Nogueira's floor leadership in that match did much to secure the win. "She would look at the match-ups, consider their strengths and weaknesses and put the ball where it needed to be for our attackers to get the kill," the coach said. "She is one of the best at that."
By the time Nogueira graduated from Missouri State-West Plains in May 2004 with an Associate of Arts in General Studies degree, she had left an indelible mark on the Grizzly record books. She had set the single season assist record with 1,979 in 2003 and the career assist record with 2,864, both of which still stand today. She also is second in career attacking percentage for outside/right side attackers (.334), sixth in single season attacking percentage for outside/right side attackers (.322 in 2003), seventh in career attacking percentage for all attackers (.334), 10th in career service aces (81), 16th in career digs (706), 17th in single season attacking percentage for all attackers (.346 in 2003), and 18th in single season service aces (42 in 2002). She was named first-team All-Region 16 twice and an NJCAA Academic All-American in 2003.
Nogueira transferred to the University of South Florida in Tampa where she helped guide the Bulls to eighth place finishes in Conference-USA (2004) and the Big East Conference (2006). She is ninth on the Bulls' all-time list for assists per game in a season (11.72 in 2004) and eighth in career assists with 1,964 between 2004-2006. She also earned Big East Academic All-Star honors in 2006. Since graduating with a Bachelor of Arts from South Florida in 2007, Nogueira has played and coached volleyball in Verona, Italy, and at Morehead State University in Morehead, Ky., as a graduate assistant. She is currently coaching the Marina Barra Clube team in Brazil with her mother and brother and working with her mother to develop a clothing line.
Nogueira has many fond memories of West Plains. "I had the best time ever there. I have friends and people whom I adore even now," she said. "To remember West Plains is to remember the beginning of a new life for me, one I will never forget. That's where it all started.
"This award is something very special," she continued. "It is an honor for me to receive this award. I am receiving it in the name of all my teammates and coaches who worked really hard with me to accomplish what we did. If it were not for them, I would not be coming back to West Plains. I want to thank them and the whole community for giving me the best experience of my life!"