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Natalie Petrova celebrates a point earlier this season

The West Virginia University volleyball team has a positive record of 7-5 so far this season, and many big playmakers have contributed to the team's success.

One of those impact players is junior outside hitter Natali Petrova.

Petrova is originally from Sofia, Bulgaria, and transferred to WVU before this season. Formerly, she played for Missouri State and just last season for Tyler Junior College.

This season, Petrova has been able to put up productive numbers for the Mountaineers, amassing 133 kills, 23 combined assisted and solo blocks, and nine service aces. Petrova also exploded in two matches against Kansas State in October, combining for 34 kills and six blocks in those matches.

Although she has performed well and meshed with her new teammates, it was a challenge at first for Petrova to transition to a new university during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“It’s been very hard, especially with corona, because when I got here, we couldn’t actually bond as a team,” Petrova said. “But my teammates are making it really easy because they’re welcoming me and not excluding me.”

Now that Petrova has found her rhythm with her new team, she’s creating plays in big moments, and has been a passionate, experienced leader for her teammates.

Being on a team of skilled athletes at WVU, Petrova personally believes her best physical skill is passing, but her mental skills are also big factors that drive her game.

“Something that helps me for sure has to be the passion that I play with, because volleyball means everything, and everything in my life is about volleyball,” Petrova said. “Also, my determination to be successful too for sure.”

Petrova has found inspiration in her life through her parents, Kamen and Iliyana Petrova. Her mother was a member of the Bulgarian National Team and her father played semi-pro volleyball in Bulgaria. They both have inspired her to become the player that she is today.

“It’s always been my parents,” Petrova said. “My parents are the reason I started playing volleyball because my dad brought me to my first game when I was a little kid, and I started loving it.”

With her parents by her side, always supporting her, Petrova looks to the future as the season winds down, with goals of going to the post season tournament.

“We’re looking to make it to the NCAA Tournament, do good in the tournament and basically make the program more successful,” Petrova said. “We want to take the program to a better place, for sure.”

Petrova looks to lead her team through the final stretch of their schedule now, with the top-ranked Texas Longhorns next up on their schedule. The matches will be held on Nov. 12 and 13 at the WVU Coliseum.