Standing at 6 feet 3 inches with a big smile and even bigger volleyball skills, senior captain and middle blocker Brett Quirarte has been a force for the UCSB women’s volleyball team since her arrival on campus in 2004. The Long Beach, Calif. native and global studies major has been named First Team All-Big West for two consecutive years in addition to helping the Gauchos claim the 2004 and 2005 Big West Conference crowns. The last few seasons have been a successful ride for Quirarte, who’s dreamed about this kind of success for years.
“Ever since I was little, I always wanted to play volleyball,” Quirarte said. “I even wanted to go to the Olympics and beat everyone. I have high standards for myself, so coming to UCSB was the best choice I ever made. I’m really competitive and I put a lot of effort out, so I enjoy what I do. You have to love playing because it is so hard, and you need a lot of heart to play volleyball.”
In 2005, Quirarte put herself on the map with a then career-high 11 kills in a four-game win over Cal State Fullerton. At the end of the season, she was tied for second on the Gaucho squad with 0.82 blocks per game and led the team with a 1.02 blocking average.
“The time has gone really fast, and it’s great to feel like I accomplished something,” Quirarte said. “[Head Coach Kathy Gregory] is a legend, and a really good coach. She has taught me that I can really get out there and do something with my life. As a captain, I feel like I need to set an example with my performance which is why I try my best with every game.”
Quirarte continued her momentum in 2006 as she hit .315, ranking fifth among Big West players that season. She led UCSB with 110 block assists and 122 total blocks, while averaging 1.10 blocks per game. She easily broke her own career high for kills by hitting 25 against Western Michigan University. Her total kills for the 2006 season were 307, the highest total for a returning player in school history. Despite the gaudy statistics though, Quirarte’s sole focus remains on the success of her team.
“I try not to think about my stats and what I have done in certain games,” Quirarte said. “I just go out there and play for my team. I feel pressure knowing that I have done well in the past and things are expected of me, but I love it and I tell the girls not to give up. I’m close with the freshmen girls, and everyone knows that they can come and talk to me if they have a problem.”
This season, Quirarte leads UCSB with a .333 hitting clip and a 1.09 blocking average, which put her fourth and seventh in the Big West in the two categories respectively. On Sept. 21, she surpassed 600 career kills and that number continues to grow with each passing game. As she wraps up a dominant college career, Quirarte has turned her attention to her future.
“I’ve been thinking about playing professionally or even beach volleyball,” Quirarte said. “I even want to go and play in Europe. I’m still working on my decision.”
As team captain, Quirarte is used to having other players look up to her for advice and guidance.
However, despite the responsibility and the pressure of playing Division I volleyball, she knows that in the end, she’ll leave UCSB with few regrets.
“What I do want to say to future players is that they shouldn’t have any regrets,” Quirarte said. “They should just play and have fun. After all, despite all the competition, it’s only a game.”
Whatever her future may hold, one thing is for certain: Brett Quirarte has certainly left her mark on the UCSB women’s volleyball program, both on the court and off.