Dynamic duo

Greek sophomores Zampati and Tselepi reunite

By on October 1, 2019

A look at the Quinnipiac volleyball roster will reveal Georgia Tselepi and Olga Zampati are quite far away from home.

The two sophomores are from Athens, Greece, where they played high school volleyball together.

Tselepi had not started off playing volleyball. She competed in track and field, but never developed a passion for it. She said she randomly decided to try volleyball, and realized it was the sport she loved.

“I’ve been playing for like 12 years,” Tselepi said. “And I love it. Nothing has changed.”

Courtesy of QU Athletics
Volleyball was not Zampati’s first sport either. She originally did gymnastics, but was unable to continue when she lost a place to compete, forcing her to choose another sport. She then began playing volleyball, where she discovered her love for it.

The two teammates and friends have been playing together for about six years now. Tselepi said the experience has been very fun.

“We know each other so well,” Zampati said. “We know our weaknesses and our strengths, so we’re helping each other out.”

Their names were not only on the roster for Moraitis High School, but they also competed on the Greek National Team for about five years. However, making the national team was no easy feat. Multiple girls tryout, while only a handful make the cut.

“It made me compete more,” Tselepi said. “And understand the idea of how to compete and earn my spot.”

Playing against other countries also gave Tselepi the opportunity to observe a different style of play and practice.

Upon graduation, Tselepi decided to come to the United States. Most of the players on the national team left after she graduated, and this prompted her to consider doing the same thing.

“Here is a totally different experience,” Tselepi said. “I love trying new things.”

Tselepi spent her first year in the United States playing for the University of Cincinnati Bearcats, where she appeared in 16 matches, playing 17 sets.

Zampati came to play in the United States for similar reasons: the opportunity to combine her love for athletics while obtaining a degree. This was a chance she did not have in Greece. She also said that in the United States, the level of play in the sport is pretty high.

Courtesy of QU Athletics
Zampati chose to join the University of Oklahoma Sooners for her first collegiate season. She appeared in six matches, including a Big 12 match-up against Kansas State.

After parting ways following high school to come play at different colleges in the United States, the two teammates ultimately found themselves playing on the same court again — this time for the Quinnipiac Bobcats.

Head coach Kyle Robinson, the assistant coach at Oklahoma at the time, was the one who recruited Zampati to Oklahoma. Once he left, the new coaching staff implemented a different ideology that Zampati said was not the best fit for her.

She then decided to transfer to Quinnipiac. She knew Tselepi also wanted to transfer, so she put her in touch with Robinson. The two later came on a visit together and loved it, knowing it was their next chance at playing their favorite sport.

“Quinnipiac has everything I want,” Tselepi said. “It’s a smaller university, and the environment is closer.”

Both Tselepi and Zampati commented on the differences in play between Greece and the United States. In Greece, the season is much longer, beginning in September and running all the way until May. Zampati said it is more intense here than in Greece. Tselepi added there is not as much time to prepare for games due to the shorter competition season.

Reunited at Quinnipiac, the duo has taken the court together again. The team has a current record of 4-8 overall and 0-3 in MAAC play. Both have seen action in previous games, Zampati is one of the team leaders in kills and digs, tallying 60 and 76 respectively, so far this season.

Robinson said he expects Zampati and Tselepi, along with the rest of his team, to work hard, learn, compete and try to be the best version of themselves every day.

“Each girl has a different role, but within their roles, everyone is here to do a job,” Robinson said.

Courtesy of QU Athletics
Robinson is in his first year as head coach at Quinnipiac. He came from three seasons as an assistant coach at Oklahoma and a successful tenure as head coach at LIU Brooklyn from 2008 to 2015.

He said it can at times be tough as an international athlete coming to the United States alone, especially since they are thousands of miles from home. He said Zampati and Tselepi being here together is huge because they remind each other of home.

“I think the international athletes for me always bring a level of professionalism to the game, to the court, that isn’t like our domestic girls get,” Robinson said.

He said in volleyball, there is a culture that has a professional mentality system. And this level of professionalism Zampati and Tselepi rubs off on the rest of the team.

Robinson said both the girls are very social and easygoing. And he had nothing but good things to say about the rest of his team.

“We’ve got so many good people in our unit here that it makes it easy for anyone to come in,” Robinson said.

And Zampati and Tselepi bring that same dynamic to the team.

“I remember seeing them on their visit, smiling and laid back and comfortable like they had been here forever,” Robinson said. “But that’s just a testament of the culture we have created here and the quality of the people that we have in that culture.”

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