Maria Carlini was ranked as the best high school volleyball player coming out of Canada by the time she finished her stellar prep career at St. Thomas of Villanova High School in 2003. The Amherstburg native led the Wildcats to four WECSSAA and four OFSAA volleyball championships while being a unanimous First-Team All-WECSSAA selection each of those years. Her prowess on the volleyball court was not confined to the high school ranks, either. During her time at Villanova, Carlini was also a prominent member of the Canadian Junior National Volleyball team and competed in South America, Europe, and Central America, plus throughout the United States. She was MVP of the 2002 Can-American tournament and later went on to captain the Canadian Youth National Team.
It was no surprise, then, when Carlini’s next volleyball stage was the courts of the NCAA Division I ranks, where she starred for the next four years as a University of Wisconsin Badger. She was an integral part of Badger teams that reached one Final Four and two Elite Eights during a career that would also feature more than 1,000 kills, a Big Ten Athlete of the Week award, and numerous all-tournament selections – including a spot on the 2005 NCAA Regional All-Tournament team. Carlini received the coveted Steve Lowe Award as the University of Wisconsin’s top female athlete in 2005 and served as the Badgers’ team captain in her senior year.
Carlini spent her fifth year “at” Wisconsin playing overseas in Italy while she continued her studies in Florence. After returning to the United States, she assumed the head coaching position of the men’s volleyball team for a middle-of-the-road Division 3 program in Milwaukee. Carlini showed she was as good a tactician as a player, guiding her school to the NCAA D3 championship. Carlini’s love of her sport continues to this day. She has been a successful coach of both women’s and men’s volleyball teams at the intercollegiate level and founded a youth beach volleyball program in Madison to promote and grow the sport of indoor and outdoor volleyball.
Maria Carlini, one of the premier volleyball players to ever hail from the Windsor-Essex region, is deservedly inducted into the Windsor/Essex County Sports Hall of Fame in the Athletes Category.