When the examining the factors relating to Elise Ferreira’s development into an elite high school volleyball player, the age-old nature versus nurture debate comes to mind.
The Liberty High senior’s mother, Ellen, is a former professional volleyball player and her father, Carl, is a longtime, highly successful college volleyball coach who has been at Bakersfield College for the past 14 years.
Coming from a family with such deep ties to the sport, it could be said that Elise was born to play volleyball.
True or not, she certainly performs like it on the court.
The talented, hardworking, intelligent, mentally strong and well-coached four-year varsity starter has led Liberty to great success since arriving at the school.
During her first three years at Liberty, the Patriots posted an 80-25 record, won three Southwest Yosemite League titles, one Central Section Division I championship and qualified for the state playoffs three times.
Elise led Liberty in assists (441) and aces (50) and was second in digs (203) and third in kills (226) last season.
For her efforts, she was awarded BVarsity All-Area First Team honors.
“Last year I got to set, which is my favorite thing to do, so that was really nice,” Elise said.
Elise was recently named a “Senior Ace” by PrepVolleyball as one of the top 100 senior volleyball players in the country.
She hopes to cap off her prep career with another stellar year.
“I don’t think last year I was my best from a hitting perspective,” Elise said. “I know I’m a setter, but I also have to be able to put balls on the floor and last year I was kind of disappointed in myself in how I approached that. This year, it’s a goal of mine to score more points and to be a bigger offensive attacker for the team. From the setting perspective, I want to give my hitters their best ball every single time.”
Elise’s play will have a big impact on how well the Patriots perform as a team.
“Although we’re young, I definitely think we have the talent and ability to be successful,” Elise said. “I have very high expectations for our team.”
Elise was born in Eugene, Oregon, during her father’s 2000-2005 stint as the head women’s volleyball coach at the University of Oregon.
Soon after moving to Bakersfield at age 5, she started playing volleyball competitivity. She first joined a club team when she was 9 years old.
While growing up, she regularly attended the volleyball practices run by her dad, who stresses the value of athletes accessing their minds to reach peak performance.
“I’ve always been surrounded by volleyball,” Elise said. “My dad is absolutely amazing. … Seeing him with his teams and how they improve the mental aspect of their game moved me to realize that (what he was teaching) was what I needed to do to be successful.
“I have definitely adopted all of his ‘Carlisms.’ I think it helps my game 100 percent.”
Elise credits her father for much of her success on the volleyball court.
“He has helped me beyond compare,” Elise said. “I would never be able to repay him for him how much he’s done for me.”
Following her father’s approach has helped Elise to be able to follow in her mother’s footsteps and play at the next level.
Her mom, an outstanding college volleyball player, was inducted into the Cal Poly Athletics Hall of Fame in 2008.
Elise, sought after by multiple big-time college volleyball programs, is committed to attend the University Oregon.
Currently sporting an impeccable 4.5 grade-point average, she will graduate from Liberty at the end of the 2018 fall semester and will enroll at Oregon in January.
It will be a homecoming for her.
“I knew from the very beginning that this was where I wanted to go,” Elise said. “This was where my heart was. The place I wanted to come back to.” ￼