End of an era for Carmel volleyball team and Moisio family

It's the beginning of the end.

And the beginning of the Moisio/Carmel volleyball connection was quite some time ago.

People throw around the word "era" a lot in sports, but this Moisio family volleyball run really could be considered a legitimate era.

The 2021 volleyball campaign marks the 11th straight season that a daughter from the Moisio family of Waukegan will be a part of the Carmel volleyball program.

Three Moisio sisters have played for Carmel over the last 11 years, and littlest sister Milana Jo Moisio, a senior libero and four-year varsity player, is hoping to leave with the biggest bang.

Milana already owns Carmel's serve receive single-season record, and she is well on her way to setting the school's all-time digs record, too.

"I think it really is the end of an era," Milana Moisio said. "And I think it went too fast."

That's funny, because Milana has been around for the longest.

She's come a long way from the days of being dragged along, and then excitedly tagging along, to most of her big sisters' volleyball games.

"I grew up in a big athletic family," Milana said. "My Mom (Gina) played volleyball. My dad (Greg) played basketball and is a strength and conditioning coach (at Waukegan High School). We always worked out together as a family.

"My sisters played club volleyball and I would come along to watch. One day, the coach asked me if I wanted to play. I was only 8. My sister was 11, and I was like 'Oh, I don't know about that.' But I did it and I loved it.

"I really liked being on the team, even though I was 8 and playing with 12-year olds. And I also really liked getting to see my sister all the time at practice."

That sister was Jolina Jo, who is now 20. She played on the varsity for three years at Carmel and is now a student at DePaul. Like Milana, she was also a libero.

Before Jolina, there was oldest sister Gianna Jo, who is now 23 years old and a student at Northeastern Illinois. She started at Carmel in the fall of 2011 and was a ... you guessed it, libero.

Milana likes to joke that libero is the preferred family position because all the girls got their dad's height. Greg Moisio is 5-foot-6.

But Carmel coach David Pazely points more to the skills of the Moisio girls. They all had (and have) a knack for defensive fundamentals and passing.

"Milana has had a leg up on the competition growing up because she was always trying to keep up with her older sisters," said Pazely, who has coached all three Moisio sisters. "As a result, she was varsity ready by the time she came in as a freshman. While she doesn't have a younger sister to coach up for Carmel's future, she's already helping her younger teammates learn how to read the game."

Indeed, Milana is passing on the family secrets. She learned much of what she knows about volleyball and being an athlete from her older sisters.

"Jolina was a very laid back player and very mellow and relaxed and I learned how to handle (pressure) from her," Milana said. "Gianna was very vocal and spirited and when you need to get stuff done, you look to Gianna.

"I never got to play with Gianna, but I played with Jolina and that was really great, getting to play a sport you love with your sister. She always used to tell me to always keep moving. Both my sisters taught me things about volleyball, but in different ways, and I try to tell that stuff to our younger players."

So in some small way, perhaps the Moisio era can continue, even when it's officially over.

"I think Senior Night will be emotional," Moisio said. "My parents are used to going to every game, for so long. My grandma, too.

"I'm hoping to play in college, so at least it won't be my last game ever of volleyball. But it will still be a hard one, for me and my family."

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