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Flintridge Sacred Heart alumna Jenna Orlandini makes French connection

By Andrew J. Campa, Glendale News-Press, Calif.
McClatchy-Tribune Information Services

July 03--From La Canada Flintridge to Seattle and everywhere in between, volleyball has certainly given former Flintridge Sacred Heart Academy standout Jenna Orlandini a great viewpoint of the country.

Now the 23-year-old is expanding her horizons.

Recently, Orlandini signed a professional contract with Vannes Volleyball Club of Vannes, France, which is located on the northwest corner of the country bordering the Atlantic Ocean.

"This is a process that happened very quickly and I'm excited and grateful for the opportunity to play professional volleyball," Orlandini said while visiting family in La Canada. "We weren't just looking in France, but they had the best team that needed a libero and I can't wait to get started."

Vannes has been a club on the rise and will participate in Ligue A, or the A League, the highest division in France in the upcoming 2014-15 season.

Vannes earned a spot in the top league after defeating AS Saint-Raphaël for the title of 2014 Champion de France d'elite Feminine.

Orlandini, a 2008 Flintridge Sacred Heart alumnae, is believed to be the first-ever Tologs volleyball product to sign a professional contract and second athlete in school history to do so after former soccer star Lauren Bustos inked with the Spanish Club Hercules femenino in February of 2013.

"How many people get this opportunity to play at the professional level?" said Shelli Orlandini, Jenna's mother and former head coach at Flintridge Sacred Heart. "She's worked so hard to achieve this and the only sad thing is that now she's going to be far away.

"She always played locally and even in Seattle she wasn't really that far away. Now, she's an ocean away."

Jenna Orlandini concluded a successful four-year playing stint and overall five-year run with the University of Washington in December as the team advanced to the NCAA Final Four and concluded with a 30-3 record and first PAC-12 title since 2005.

The libero tied former program legend Courtney Thompson for the most sets ever played in a career in school history at 450. Orlandini's career total of 1,974 digs is also third-best in school history and the 12th-highest mark within the PAC-12.

Jenna Orlandini was a PAC-12 All-Academic honorable mention, an All-American honorable mention and an All-Pacific North Region Team selection.

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For the season, Orlandini finished with 487 digs and 32 aces and graduated with a double bachelor's degree in communications and sociology.

Jenna Orlandini, who aspires to play for the US National Team, was thankful to her agent Alessandro Lodi, a Team USA scout.

"We don't have a professional league in America, so to become a professional you go to Europe or South America or Asia," said Jenna Orlandini, who has yet to visit France. "After I finished my college career at Washington in December, I sent highlight and game tapes to a few places.

"Alessandro had some connections and the Vannes coach saw my footage and got in contact with me through email. After that, the whole process took like a week, maybe two."

Perhaps one of the bigger challenges facing Jenna Orlandini was evident in the email, as her coach communicated with her in English and a separate English contract also needed to be created for her signature, but she won't have that luxury in France.

"I'm definitely going to work on learning French," Jenna Orlandini said. "I've downloaded a few apps and I just want to be able to know a few words before I get there. I have to be able to communicate with my team or else my life will be a little more difficult."

In between learning French, obtaining a work visa and purchasing insurance, Jenna Orlandini will also be practicing before leaving sometime between Aug. 16-22.

"I'm going to be in town for a few more days and then I'm heading up to Seattle," Jenna Orlandini said. "I'm going to continue to train there, play in some tournaments and continue to get reps with the [Washington] volleyball team. It's an exciting time."

___

(c)2014 the Glendale News-Press (Glendale, Calif.)

Visit the Glendale News-Press (Glendale, Calif.) at www.glendalenewspress.com

Distributed by MCT Information Services

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