UNDERDOG MENTALITY: Mustangs' Muoneke Stays Pushing, Thriving
Bianna Muoneke remembers returning home in tears, having lost her spot on a club volleyball team and feeling she ruined a chance to make an impression in front of college coaches getting an early look at prospects.
“It wasn’t because I was bad,” Muoneke recalled. “I was just short. I couldn’t get on that block or hit through those blockers. I used to cry to my dad and tell him, ‘I just can’t. I’m too short.’”
Gabe Muoneke, a former Cypress Falls and University of Texas standout and veteran professional basketball player, wasn’t hearing it.
“Why do you keep saying you can’t? You can,” he told his eldest daughter. “You need to show them all that determination. Keep going. You don’t stop. They’ll stop, but you won’t.”
Muoneke never stopped. Now the Cypress Ranch senior and Texas A&M- commit is one of the best volleyballers in Texas following a remarkable 2021 season in which she compiled 6.3 kills and 3.7 digs per set, with 75 aces, 26 total blocks and a .417 hitting percentage.
Undersized for an outside hitter, the 6-foot Muoneke already owns program records in kills in a game (31), single-season hitting percentage (.417) and single- season aces (75).
“It was years and years of being in pain and sadness because of not being able to play or not making a list or a ranking,” Muoneke said of those days as a 12-year- old that are still so vivid today. “But it just made me stronger. Volleyball broke me down and hurt my mentality, but I’m not a quitter. I keep pushing because I don’t want to disappoint my younger self. I know she’d want me to keep going.”
Muoneke has been competitive from a young age.
She is a three-time Brazilian jiu jitsu State Champion. The discipline and focus the sport demands is ideal for a young lady who thrives off, well, discipline and focus.
“In volleyball, games can get tight,” Muoneke said. “The only thing you can fall back on is your technique. But if you have no discipline, you can’t fall back on that.
“Being a small hitter taught me to have a super high volleyball IQ. When I’m going up to hit and see where the block is, I’ll hit somewhere else. When you can’t overpower people, you have to learn how to score around people.”
Muoneke is all about the little things. She makes her bed every morning.
“It’s something proactive so that your day can start well and, hopefully, finish well,” she said.
Her diet is strict. She eats fish, but otherwise no gluten, yeast, dairy, red meat or chicken.
“It’s easier to push through fatigue when games get to a fifth set and everyone else is tired,” Muoneke said.
This summer was crucial for Muoneke. She will graduate early in December to be in College Station by January. Before she gets there, though, Muoneke wants to get the Mustangs to State.
Doubt her at your own risk.
“I feel like I’m always the underdog, and that drives me,” Muoneke said. “I don’t feel I’m even close to being what I want to be. Certain lists or rankings that I don’t make ... I definitely push myself because I feel I’m better. When I play against these high-ranked girls, I make sure I play to where they know I’m supposed to be in their spot.”