Dalianliz and Yavianliz Rosado may be thousands of miles from each other and home, but the lessons they learned in volleyball — and life — from each other and their parents remain close to their hearts.
Dalianliz, a 5-foot-9 sophomore libero at the University of Minnesota, and her sister, 5-6 Yavianliz, also a sophomore libero who plays at San Jose State, grew up playing volleyball in Morovis, Puerto Rico.
They began playing volleyball around the ages of 6 and 7. Their father, Carlos Javier Rosado, became their coach and the family learned the sport together.
“He didn’t know anything about volleyball until we started playing,” Dalianliz said. “And, he’s done a pretty good job.”
With two daughters/players landing scholarships at Division I schools, that’s probably an understatement.
“We spent a lot of time together and he has taught me a lot,” Dalianliz said. “He would do anything he could to have my sister and I get better everyday. I’m grateful and thankful that he’s spent the time he did with us.”
Maybe more valuable than the time their dad put into coaching them fundamentals of the game were the intangible characteristics he instilled in them.
“The best thing I got from my dad is my toughness,” Yavianliz said. “When we played with him, he was really tough on us — probably because we were his daughters. He put a lot of pressure on us and I learned how to deal with the pressure. Now, I’m good at working under pressure.”
The sisters also gained an incredible work ethic playing for their dad, and an intense desire to get better every day.
“I think Yavianliz gets that from him,” said Jolene Shepardson, head volleyball coach at San Jose State. “She always wants to learn and be the best she can be. You would think that is the case with every athlete, but it is not. People are afraid to take risks to gain improvement, but
she is not like that. I think he helped implement that in her. He was constantly learning the game himself, so he taught his children to do the same.”
Minnesota head coach Hugh McCutcheon agreed that Rosado gave his daughters a solid volleyball foundation.
“When (Dalianliz) came in she had a great feel for the game,” McCutcheon said. “She understands what she’s doing out there. The major refinements since she’s been here are things we’re trying to get her to do a little more efficiently, but she was pretty complete when she arrived.”
While they learned the game from the dad, the Rosado sisters inherited their competitive spirit from their mother Daliana Otero, a former athlete who played on Puerto Rico’s national softball team.
“She’s a wonderful person,” Shepardson said. “She’s just as competitive as their dad. I think the passion comes from her.”
Daly Santana, a senior outside hitter at Minnesota, grew up in Puerto Rico near the Rosado family and played for a rival club team. Daly and Dalianliz have know each nearly their entire lives, so she can attest to the family’s competitive nature.
“(Dalianliz) is a very competitive player,” Santana said. “Any time we played against each other that made it really fun. I think her competitive nature helped her get better in college. She competes against herself in a way. She’s been really open to changes and that has helped her a lot, too.”
Dalianliz, 14 months older than her sister, says she picked up that feisty attitude from Yavianliz when they were younger.
“She gets into it more than I do,” Dalianliz said. “She’s passionate about volleyball and I love that. I learned that from her when we played together.”
It is the reason Shepardson, who also has four Brazilians on her San Jose State team, starting recruiting Puerto Rico.
“Their culture loves volleyball,” Shepardson said. “There is so much passion and Yavianliz represents that passion. That’s a huge part of our program and the culture we’re trying to build as we bring our program back up to a high level.”
That mindset has made a difference for the Spartans. They posted a disappointing 4-27 record last year, but have turned it around this season and enter the weekend with an 11-10 mark.
Minnesota is also on the rise and cracked the top 10 this week. The No. 9 Gophers are 15-3, a marked improvement from last year’s final record of 19-12. They enter the weekend in a three-way tie with Nebraska and Ohio State for first place in the Big Ten Conference.
Technology helps the Rosado sisters stay in close contact. They stream each other’s matches online and call each other before each game to offer words of encouragement. Despite being 2,000 miles apart, they know the other is always rooting for them.
“I know she’s watching me and I know what she would tell me to do,” Yavianliz said.
Minnesota heads to No. 3 Nebraska Friday night for a battle of first-place Big Ten teams. San Jose State hosts UNLV Thursday night.
And, of course, their parents will be watching from Puerto Rico.
“They are our biggest fans even though they’re not here,” Dalianliz said.