Highly recruited Bishop lives up to expectations of family and ‘volleyball family’
Published: Tuesday, October 8, 2013
Updated: Tuesday, October 8, 2013 21:10
Tahleia Bishop had scheduled recruiting visits to West Virginia, Mississippi and Michigan to play college volleyball. But from the moment she stepped onto UB’s campus, she had made up her mind.
Bishop immediately canceled her visits to the other schools.
“The [Bulls] were like family,” said Bishop, a sophomore outside hitter. “The way everyone treats each other and the atmosphere around campus is the reason why I came here.”
With Bishop’s help, the team got off to a historic start this year, winning 12 straight games to open the season. She is one of the youngest players on a team filled with upperclassmen, but Bishop has played beyond her age; she leads the squad with 195 kills.
She contributes in ways most underclassmen can’t.
Bishop hails from Whitbey, Ontario, where she excelled as a two-sport athlete in basketball and volleyball. Unfortunately for Bishop, the two sports overlapped in the winter season, so she was forced to choose between the two.
With help from her mom, Sophia Bishop, she chose volleyball.
"She was always very athletic, even winning gold in her first badminton tournament,” Sophia said. “But it came to the point where she had to choose one and she loved volleyball, so that was her sport.”
Bishop played for Sinclair High School and the Toronto Diamonds Volleyball Club. She led her club team, earning two Diamond Awards and two MVP honors.
After struggling to decide where to play in college, Bishop had to prepare for the stress of becoming a Division I athlete. For her, there was added pressure. Bishop’s family consists of mostly surgeons, lawyers and business owners – there was a high standard of success.
Living up to that success became her motivation.
“Figuring out what to do with my life has always been a stressful topic,” Bishop said. “Everyone in my family has done something great with their life, so I have to do something amazing, too.”
She planned to follow in her family’s path and attend medical school at UB. But shortly after coming to campus, she realized the medical field doesn’t suit her.
Instead, Bishop is majoring in political science and plans to attend law school after graduation.
“We’ve always encouraged [Bishop] to pursue her passion in sports, education and life,” Sophia said. “She has amazing writing skills and thinks very analytically, so I think [law] is a good fit. Most importantly, it’s something she’ll enjoy doing.”
With her academic plans in place, Bishop is now focused on helping the Bulls (14-3, 2-2 Mid-American Conference) continue to win volleyball games.
In the second match of the year, Bishop set the school record with 20 kills in a three-set match.
“It was a little stressful at first,” Bishop said. “To break the record for kills and then have to keep putting up good numbers.”
The stress hasn’t halted her performances. Last Thursday, in a 3-2 win over Akron, she became the first Bull to record 20 kills and 20 digs in a match since 2003.
Head coach Todd Kress knew there was something special about Bishop when he was recruiting her.
“I saw a student-athlete that played at a high level, but not against high-level competition,” Kress said. “She just had a great personality, a kid that’s laidback but also intense.”
Her intensity is part of the Bulls’ culture; the team is in search of the first MAC Championship in program history.
Buffalo volleyball does not have a rich history of success, and that intrigued Bishop. With schools like Michigan and Mississippi vying for her talent, the opportunity to come to Buffalo and help turn around the program was something she wanted.
“I came to UB to make a difference,” Bishop said.