“I just love eating,” she said.
But Reed’s volleyball phenom, Mo Maluotoga, is no average soon-to-be high school grad. Not by a long shot.
The senior ran her own business this summer (business cards and all), is chasing down an Ivy League volleyball scholarship at Columbia University and realistically craves to earn High Desert League Player of the Year honors.
“I always knew when she was an eighth grader and she used to come to camps, and games, there was going to be something special about her,” coach Kris Flagtvedt said. “I couldn’t be happier for her. She has always done well in the classroom. She gets very good grades and I mean to have the shot to go to an Ivy League school and play volleyball there, that’s huge. It definitely takes a special student athlete to be able to accomplish that.”
Even with big things in the near future for Maluotoga, she remains grounded.
“Right now I am just focused on my SAT, my academics and my senior year,” Maluotoga said Tuesday afternoon in Reed’s gym before hopping on the bus to play at Reno. “Hopefully by the end of the year I will be committed.”
Maluotoga took the SAT in May but her score was just below Columbia’s requirement score of 1800. She is taking the test again in two weeks in attempt to reach that mark.
Maluotoga said Columbia has already offered her a scholarship and the SAT score is the lone obstacle in her path to the east coast.
“I’m really praying I get at least 1800. Then I really would like to commit to Columbia,” she said.
Garnering business experience over summer, Maluotoga said she wants to study business while possibly minoring in nutrition at whichever school she attends. With a deep volleyball network in place, Maluotoga charged $20 a session to train, and coach, players.
She first started training girls for fun at the sand courts at Golden Eagle after a number of teammates asked for help. Then one of her trainees put the pieces together.
“One of the girls said ‘you should do this for business Mo and I should pay you,’ and I was like ‘you don’t have to pay me,” Maluotoga recalled.
She didn’t think that way for long.
“I got home and I thought, ‘I could be making bank right now,’” she said.
And the business was born.
Financial benefits aside, Maluotoga said coaching is truly one of her passions and she hopes to continue coaching upon graduating college. She dreams of owning a volleyball gym.
She loves coaching so much, she does it in the middle of games and practices, especially toward teammates, and fellow outside hitter, Emilie Braun. Last week Maluotoga gave Braun a pointer to hold her wrist more firm while she was attacking the ball. Braun finished with a career-high 19 kills the following match.
“At practice, I’m kind of like her mentor. I tell her you should do this, you should do this, and I really like it because she listens to me. It helps on the court,” Maluotoga said. “I’m proud of her. When she gets kills or she gets set, I’m in the back row saying ‘come on, come on.’ I love Emilie. We have that outside hitter connection.”
“When Emilie is hitting, if Mo is behind her, she is usually telling her line or cross and trying to help her find the opening on the block,” Flagtvedt said of the duo’s relationship.
With her on- and off-the-court success, many could make the mistake to believe Maluotoga is all business, especially before games. Her pregame routine is not performing a particular stretch. It’s not serving a certain amount of time. It goes back to a favorite of hers: food.
“For home games I have to eat Qdoba before. It’s really weird, I have to eat Qdoba,” Maluotoga said with a laugh. “For away games it’s Port of Subs.”
A Port of Subs is located across the street from Reed High School and Maluotoga said her teammate Kelsey Donahoe would get sandwiches before away games but only finish half of them, leaving the rest for Maluotoga.
She then decided she needed to get her own and the ritual was created.
With the aide of an unrelenting work ethic (and Qdoba and Port of Subs) Maluotoga has become one of the most dominant players in the HDL and will leave shoes in the Reed volleyball program that will be nearly impossible to fill.
“I have lucked out being able to have her for four years,” Flagtvedt said. “She has always wanted to do better and she is never satisfied... To have a player like that just makes your job as a coach easier.”