Wisconsin’s new libero Giorgia Civita is no stranger to big changes.
A native of Milan, Italy, Civitia Civita tore her ACL while still in Italy, and was thinking of what the next move might be. Her brother, Luca, had friends who had gone to the US on athletic scholarships before, and felt that would be a way to help Civita get back to playing at a high level.
So her brother made a recruiting video, helped get her information to colleges in the US and thanks to a mix of logistical issues like fewer requirements for a language test, better scholarship funding and recent success, Civita joined the Wichita State Shockers in 2016, all thanks to her brother.
“If it wasn’t for him, there is no way I’d be in the US today,” Civita said.
Five years later, Civita’s desire for more competition and desire to regain her love and drive for volleyball led her to join the No. 1 Wisconsin Badgers, and she will be a crucial part of a back line as the Badgers look to challenge for a national championship.
“I think anyone on the team would answer that winning the national championship is our goal,” Civita said.
Civita is no stranger to competition, and earned high accolades since her time in Italy. Twice named the best libero in Italy, Civita competed with the U18 Italian National team in 2013 and 2014 and set records at Wichita State after a tough transition in her first year where she recovered from an injury and adjusted to a new environment.
“I did not speak any English at all, so it was super hard to get into it and the different culture. I had honestly no clue what was going on for the first three months,” Civita said.
But thanks to help from her coaches, a shift to create a system that “worked exactly for [Civita’s] type of talent” and the intense volleyball background from back home that put her in a better place skills wise than the rest of her class, the Italian was named Libero of the Year in the American Athletic Conference in 2018 and was a first team all-conference honoree as a sophomore.
Civita covered the floor for the Shockers, surpassing 1,000 career digs — good enough for seventh all time in Wichita State history — in a little more than two full years.
But after suffering another ACL injury in 2019 and the Shockers struggling to maintain the high levels of competition Civita craved, she started to not enjoy her experience.
“I felt like I hit a point where I didn’t love the game anymore,” Civita said.
The Italian put her name in the transfer portal after 2019 and was soon contacted by assistant coach Brittany Dildine via email. After a few phone calls, and talking to head coach Kelly Sheffield, Civita felt like she found the place where she could “get back to loving the game,” and committed to join the Badgers this summer, choosing UW over other schools like Penn State and Southern Cal.
With former libero Tiffany Clark leaving after last season, Wisconsin had a hole in the back line. With her experience and ability, Civita was a good fit and Kelly Sheffield noted Civita’s competitive spirit as she signed.
Nothing better than this. pic.twitter.com/3hq3Jqi7DP— Wisconsin Volleyball (@BadgerVB) January 5, 2021
“Giorgia is a baller. She loves the game and she loves being in the gym,” Sheffield said. “One of the things that jumps out at you while watching her play is her ability to read the game. She has a lot of range in serve receive and has really nice touch and feel. Defensively she also covers a lot of real estate.”
Civita agrees that Wisconsin became the perfect fit. Just over those few phone calls in the summer, Civita said she knew it was the kind of environment she wanted to be in and the coaches gave her a sense of trust that “they believed in [her].”
Civita said that although there were some hard times when she first got on campus — partly because she unable to practice as she was still rehabbing her knee — once she finally took the court, the level of competition and focused environment brought back those feelings of love she felt she was missing at the end of her time in Kansas.
“Since I’ve been 13, I’ve been all about volleyball. I love the team. [Wisconsin is] serious about this. This is what makes this program so special. The level that you play at every single day, it’s a high level. You compete every day. That’s actually what makes you better,” Civita said.
“They have given me what I’ve missed the past three years,” Civita said.
In her transition, Civita said that she became close with fellow graduate transfer Deahna Kraft, but she built strong relationships with Dana Rettke, Sydney Hilley, Lauren Barnes and Izzy Ashburn, saying that she would go over and cook dinners with them and got to know them well.
Now that Civita is back on the court, with her knee feeling really good and practicing for the best she had since the injury, she said she has good relationships with everyone. And the way the Badgers are practicing, she feels the Badgers’ goal of a national title is on the table.
“I really think for how we’ve been approaching every single day in practice, how we’ve competed with each other, and the mentality this team has is something that we definitely can accomplish. We are so good at working together, everyone is super locked in,” said Civita.