Rise Add Three to Inaugural Roster

Rise Add Three to Inaugural Roster

Colombian National Camila Gomez, 2021 All-American Marin Grote, and Michigan State’s Holly Toliver Join Grand Rapids

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. – The Grand Rapids Rise on Monday announced the signings of libero Camila Gomez (ca-ME-la), middle blocker Marin Grote (MAYR-rin GROW-t) and opposite Holly Toliver.

Gomez, a Cali, Colombia, native, most recently competed for EC Pinheiros in Brazil during the 2022-23 after playing her rookie pro season for Sesc Flamengo in Brazil in 2020-21. Gomez is a member of the Colombian National Team and has collected 11 medals for her home country, which include a silver medal at the 2022 Pan American Cup. In 2019, she was named the Best Libero at the Pan American Games and the Best Digger at the Pan American Cup.

“Camila is very well known and has been playing at a high level in Columbia and Brazil for years. She has this energy and intensity about her, yet she is very calm with her passing and play and her defense is relentless,” Rise head coach Cathy George said.  

Gomez began her collegiate career at Miami Dade College, capturing back-to-back NJCAA Division 1 titles in 2017 and 2018. She finished her career at Texas A&M where she was named to the 2019 AVCA South All-Region Team. During the 2019 campaign, the 5-foot-2 libero finished fourth in the SEC with 470 digs and paced the Aggies with 3.92 digs per set. Her 470 digs ranked fifth for a single season at Texas A&M, while her 3.92 digs per set placed fourth all time in a single season. In addition, Gomez’s 19 aces ranked 24th for a single season during the 25-point scoring era at Texas A&M (2008-present).

“It was always in my wildest dreams to be able to play professionally here in the U.S. and now it’s a reality,” Gomez said. “I can’t be happier that Pro Volleyball Federation is making this possible for me and for so many talented women that don’t want to leave America.”

Grote hails from Burbank, Calif., and most recently competed for Sigorta Shop in Turkey during the 2022-23 season after wrapping up her fifth season at the University of Washington. The 6-foot-4 blocker captured two Pac-12 championships at Washington and reached the Final Four twice. In 2021, she became the first Husky middle since 2015 to be named a AVCA Second Team All-American. She also garnered spots on the AVCA All-Region Team three times and was a two-time All-Pac-12 honoree.

“Marin is a great slide hitter and is a very offensive-minded middle. She has played in the highest league in Turkey and brings a lot of experience at a young age,” George said. “Fans will love her go-get-it, aggressive play and her winning attitude. We are excited to have her join us in West Michigan.” 

Grote finished fourth in Washington history with a 0.380 career attack percentage and posted a 0.410 hitting percentage during her final collegiate season in 2022, which ranked third in the Pac-12. In 2021, she paced the Pac-12 with an attack percentage of 0.415, the sixth-best single-season mark in school history. Grote finished her time as a Husky with an average of 1.90 kills per set, 2.42 points per set and 0.9 blocks per set.

“Being able to play professional volleyball in the U.S. is a lifelong dream come true. I am ecstatic to be able to be part of the inaugural season of the Pro Volleyball Federation,” Grote said. “I love getting to compete amongst some of the best athletes around as well as compete for a championship.”

A Berrien Springs, Mich., native, Toliver joined the Rise after competing in her fifth professional season during the 2020-21 campaign. The 6-foot-2 hitter has played professionally in Italy and Peru, making her pro debut with Regatas Lima in Peru in 2017-18. Toliver was named the 2018 MVP of the Binh Dien International Cup and was also designated as the Best Server of the Peruvian League in 2019. She was dubbed the Best Opposite at the 2017-18 South American Club Championship.

“Many fans from Michigan and the Big Ten know Holly because of the jump-spin serve that has been a handful for most opposing teams. She is a powerful lefty, who has versatility on both pins and is a quality passer.” George said. “She has had experience in Europe, in the U.S. national-team gym, and will be an asset for us in a lot of roles.” 

Toliver played collegiately at Michigan State University from 2014-17, earning AVCA All-American, AVCA All-North Region and All-Big Ten Honorable Mentions as a senior. From 2015-17, she ranked no lower than second in the Big Ten for service aces per set. As a Spartan, Toliver amassed 114 service aces, 722 kills, 557 digs, 105 blocks and 891.5 points.

“I’ve played overseas so many times and in so many places – South American, Europe, Asia – and being in the U.S. is the best thing ever. I grew up watching professional men’s sports all the time, just like everyone else. It is good to see women’s volleyball gaining more traction,” Toliver said. “I am looking forward to playing again, playing at a high level, and being able to compete professionally in the U.S.”

Founded in December 2022 as the first Pro Volleyball Federation franchise and Grand Rapids’ first major-league women’s sports team, the Grand Rapids Rise will make their debut at Van Andel Arena in January 2024. Led by longtime Michigan State and Western Michigan head coach Cathy George, the Rise’s 14-player roster will play 24 games (12 home, 12 away) during their inaugural season. The team is operated by DP Fox Sports & Entertainment and owned by Dan DeVos, who is also co-owner and CEO of the American Hockey League’s Grand Rapids Griffins. Visit grrise.com.