From Tokyo to Ken Stanley Court

Long before she came to Pierce College to play volleyball, she played it in Japan since the age of nine.

Sakurako Fujii, who is now 20 years old, recently arrived from Tokyo to play her beloved sport here in the United States.

After spending a some time in the CSU system, she decided to join the successful volleyball program Pierce College has developed under the loop of head coach Nabil Mardini.

Leaving her home country was hard for Fujii but she has her goals set.

“My family supported me and cheered me up,” she said. “I want to study English and more American volleyball skills.”

Playing as an outside hitter this semester, she had some difficulties with good outcomes.

After she arrived to the U.S. Fujii had some cultural shocks.

“I didn’t know the language and you communicate differently,” she said.

The Brahmas’ volleyball team, who are currently ranked #1 in the state, lost 10 players from last year’s championship team but gained new ones such as Fujii.

“She is definitely a high volleyball IQ,” said head coach Mardini. “She brings a wealth of knowledge, and you can see it on the court.”

A while earlier, when Fujii came to the U.S., she really noticed the culture differences from his native Japan.

“I was so confused, and the people are taller than Japanese people,” she said.

Her teammates are impressed by her abilities.

“She brings technique, how to place the ball,” said sophomore setter Lindsey Kuramoto. “People in Japan are shorter and like to compensate, they play smarter and try to outsmart their opponent, that is the good quality she brings to the team.”