Jolien Knollema

At 18 years of age, Jolien Knollema is one of the leaders of the Netherlands team at the FIVB Volleyball Women’s U20 World Championship, and together with her teammates is giving the Dutch fans at the Topsportcentrum Rotterdam a lot to cheer about.

In December 2020, Knollema was voted the most talented player in the Netherlands during the Talent Awards. She won the first prize by a margin after grabbing almost half of the readers' votes.

Before claiming the award, Jolien had also come a long way. She started her career at the age of 11, at Oranje Nassau. “I am the first one in my family to be playing professional volleyball. My father played it, but it was a long time ago, and not in the highest divisions,” Knollema told Volleyball World.

Jolien Knollema (NED) receiving

Jolien Knollema (NED) receiving

The Dutch opposite hitter is exploring the life of a professional athlete. For the last two years, she has been competing in the Eredivise (the top league of the Netherlands), serving there as captain as well. After delivering outstanding performances, she attracted the attention of international specialists and, from next season, will play for Italian club Il Bisonte Firenze in the first division of one of the strongest leagues in the world.

This is an important step that she is excited to take. “It is amazing that I have this opportunity - to play at my age at this level. I am looking forward to learning all that I can from the experienced players there.”

It will be her first experience abroad, and Knollema has Italian lessons on her agenda. “I am yet to start learning it, I will start right after the World Championship, during my holidays. Now the focus is on the competition. It is amazing to be playing in front of a public again. Of course, it adds a special value because it is our supporters, our own home crowds cheering for us. It is so nice!”

Jolien Knollema (4) with her teammates celebrating a point

Jolien Knollema (4) with her teammates celebrating a point

Experiencing the thrilling emotion of playing the Worlds on home soil, the 1.87 outside hitter also has good memories of the beach volleyball courts. “I used to play beach volleyball, we even became U17 national champions, but I liked indoor more and decided to go only in that direction.”

Knollema says that studying Applied Psychology at the Saxion University in Deventer has helped her to better understand the processes of how one can remain calm. “I am learning how some patterns in the brain work,” the Dutch talent explained. Even though the knowledge she has picked up doesn't help her “read her opponents” during a match, it is useful for her own development.

However, her volleyball ambitions are now a priority. “I am taking a one-year break from studying because of the transfer to Italy. I will be evaluating how things go year-by-year.”

In her spare time, Jolien likes to practise other sports as well. “I live at lake Paterswoldse, so I like to get in a boat or go swimming.”