Levittown, Toa Baja
University of Florida Athletic Hall of Fame Member
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Personal: Cruz was born in the Bronx, New York, and grew up in Levittown, Toa Baja, Puerto Rico. She was inducted into Florida's Athletic Hall of Fame as a "Gator Great" in 2014. Cruz enjoys going to the beach and exploring. She has a Chiweenie named Ava. During her childhood, she competed in track and field and basketball. Cruz is fluent in Spanish and Italian.
2022 Season: In the second season of Athletes Unlimited Volleyball, Cruz demonstrated her prowess in 13 matches and 35 sets. She achieved a total of 2,663 leaderboard points, marking her notable contributions. Among her accomplishments are five matches where she amassed 200 or more points. Her remarkable performance in the penultimate appearance against Team Valentin-Anderson on April 15 earned her a season-high of 352 points. Notably, she ranked 10th in the league with 107 kills and 337 attack attempts. Her all-around abilities are highlighted by her contributions of 127 digs and seven service aces. Cruz's impact on the court was evident through her performances, as she recorded five matches with 10 or more kills. During Week Five, she secured a double-double in each of the three outings, contributing 38 kills and 36 digs in the final week of the season. Her standout match against Team Valentin-Anderson on April 15 showcased her skills with 15 kills and 12 digs, earning her MVP 2 honors. The Week Five opener against Team Lichtman witnessed her tallying 12 kills and 14 digs, further underlining her impactful presence. Her consistent performance extended to her defensive skills, with nine matches of 10 or more digs, including a season-high of 15 against Team Drews on April 8. The season commenced with Cruz's double-double against Team McClendon, as she secured 15 kills and 10 digs. Another double-double marked her Week Four opener against Team De La Cruz, where she contributed 10 kills and 11 digs.
2021 Season: Cruz's inaugural season in 2021 showcased her excellence in 14 matches and 42 sets. Her performance ranked her fourth in the league with an impressive 3,582 points. Notably, she secured the fourth position in Athletes Unlimited with 171 kills and 10 service aces. Cruz's ability to consistently achieve double-digit kills is evident through her 10 matches with 10 or more kills, including the last four matches in a row. Her impact on the court was highlighted by her remarkable feat of being one of two players to record 25 or more kills in a match. A standout performance was her season-high of 26 kills during the Week Five match against Team Larson, securing 374 leaderboard points. The season opener witnessed her contributing with a 15-kill performance against Team Clark. Her notable performances extended to securing a double-double with 12 kills and 12 digs against Team Larson on March 13. Cruz's efficiency was evident through her season-high .520 hitting percentage, achieving 12 kills and eight digs on March 20 against Team Hunter.
Other Professional Experience: Cruz has had a diverse professional career in volleyball. Most recently, she played for Puerto Rico's Changas de Naranjito after spending the 2021-22 season with Valencianas de Juncos. Her professional journey has also taken her to Italy, Spain, South Korea, Turkey, and Azerbaijan.
International Experience: Cruz has represented her home country, Puerto Rico, on the international stage. She competed in the 2016 Olympic Games as a member of Team Puerto Rico, showcasing her talent and dedication to the sport.
At Florida: Cruz was a trailblazer for the University of Florida. She became the first player in Florida program history to earn AVCA First-Team All-America honors three times. Additionally, she received All-America honors from Volleyball Magazine as a sophomore and was part of the 2000 Volleyball Magazine All-Freshman Team. Cruz earned four-time AVCA All-Region selections and was the recipient of the 2000 AVCA Region Freshman of the Year award. She was named to the 2003 NCAA Championship All-Tournament Team and the NCAA Regional All-Tournament Team three times, earning Most Outstanding Player commendations twice. Cruz also received four All-Southeastern Conference selections and was a three-time SEC Player of the Year. She was recognized as the 2000 SEC Freshman of the Year. In terms of records, Cruz holds school career records with 1,815 kills and 2,188.5 points. She ranks second on Florida's all-time list with 220 career service aces and eighth in Florida history with 1,320 career digs. Cruz led Florida in kills three times during her college career and also led the team in service aces and points throughout all four years. She occupies the ninth position on Florida's single-season list with 519 kills during the 2003 season and holds the eighth place on the single-season ledger with 627 points as a senior. Cruz's impact is further evident in the single-season rally scoring era match records, with 31 kills and 36.5 points at Nebraska on December 8, 2001. She also tallied a school-record nine service aces against South Carolina on October 26, 2003. Her contributions were not only on the court but also off it, as she was a member of the 2003 SEC Community Service Team. In recognition of her outstanding achievements, Cruz was named Florida's Top Female Athlete in 2003.
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