"I loved playing it because I always saw my older sister, Valeria, play, and that's how I started to get involved with the sport, and that's when I started to like it," Thats how Ivanna Rivera Vargas replied when asked, "When and why did you decide to play beach volleyball?"

"It was at her club where she played," (her sister Valeria) "at the Coast Volleyball Club and the Wave Volleyball Club. That's where I started to get involved and that's when I started to like it," said Ivanna.

Ivanna, while only 16 years old and a current student at Eastlake High School, has been invited by the Mexican Volleyball Federation to take part in the qualifying tournament for the 2024 (Summer) Olympics, which will now be held in France.

The qualifying tournament will take place in La Paz, Baja California Sur, from March 8th to 19th, and the representatives of this sport in the Olympics will be chosen from there.

Despite her young age, Ivanna is one of the invited players to the tournament, and her father, Rubén Rivera, proudly affirms that she was contacted and called up to the Mexican national volleyball team through her club and proved her quality in a tournament held in the city of Monterrey, Nuevo León.

To get to know who this girl really is, who is surprising everyone with this invitation from the Mexican national volleyball team, we interviewed her at her home, accompanied by her parents, Rubén and Mónica Vázquez, and her older sister, Valeria Rivera.

"I started winning tournaments when I was twelve years old. It was all in the summer of 2019. I played four tournaments and won them all," said Ivanna. 

Her first impression in front of a stadium and an audience

Always with a smile and firmness in her words, the interviewee recalled that she started playing beach volleyball when she was only six years old and continued:

"I remember playing in front of a stadium. I was very young and I loved it because there were easily 100 people watching. There were stands and everything, and that's where I realized that I loved playing in front of people. It was at Hermosa Beach, which is about two and a half hours from San Diego. A very famous beach where American players come to play."

Her father Rubén Rivera affirms with legitimate pride that she was contacted and called up to the national volleyball team of Mexico through her club and proved her quality in a tournament held in the city of Monterrey, Nuevo León.

Her first games

"My first games were when I was 10 years old; I remember playing against girls who were 12 years old because obviously there were no teams for 10-year-olds, and I found it very fun and I loved the beach and the atmosphere," said the girl with a visible expression of excitement on her face. She has been inspired by the popular Brazilian player Juliana Felisberta, with whom she has developed a great personal friendship.

When asked which team she would prefer to play for, the United States or Mexico, her answer was quick:

"Before I got involved with Mexico, I was with the U.S. junior national team, and I was already involved in the under 19s. But since I was little, my dream was always to play for Mexico. Right now, my heart is with Mexico," she replied with great personal confidence. 

Although Ivanna was the one planned to be interviewed from the beginning, during the interview we learned that she comes from a family of athletes: Her sister Valeria won a national volleyball championship, and her mother, Mónica, is in the Southwestern College Hall of Fame.

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