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Julia Bergmann was first called up to the Brazilian national team in 2019, but this year was the first one in which the 22-year-old outside hitter was able to experience a full international season with the squad.

Committed to college at Georgia Tech, in the United States, she had limited availability to compete internationally for four years, and that made her miss the 2022 FIVB Volleyball Women’s World Championship, in which Brazil took silver.

In 2023, Julia and her Brazilian teammates finished fifth in the Volleyball Nations League and took gold at the South American Championship before accomplishing their main goal of the season, securing a spot at the Paris 2024 Games during the Volleyball Olympic Qualifying Tournament in Japan.

“It’s great to be with the national team full-time now and since I’m done with college, I can focus only on volleyball,” she told Volleyball World. “Every time I watched a final or just the team playing, like at the Tokyo Olympics or the World Championships, it was hard for me to not be there. I only thought that I wanted to be there with the team and help them. It’s a dream to play at the Olympics and the World Championships and watching it from afar, that’s been motivation for me to work harder so I can be there.”

Besides completing a successful international season with Brazil for the first time, Julia is living another new experience in her career. After four seasons playing collegiate volleyball in the United States, she’s signed her first professional contract and is playing with Turkish club Türk Hava Yollari (THY) in the country’s national league.

Although it’s Julia’s first time in a professional club, the Brazilian outside hitter has some familiar faces around as fellow national team players Macris Carneiro and Diana Duarte have also signed with the team.

Besides that, THY hired longtime Brazil national team head coach José ‘Zé Roberto’ Guimarães, who gave Julia her first call-up, when she was just 18, and has been since then a major contributor to the development of her career.

“Zé Roberto is one of the greatest coaches of all time,” she said. “The first time I met him, it was really intimidating because he’s accomplished so much and has coached the best players in the world. I was scared to talk to him, but I learned through the years that I had to ask questions and be able to communicate with him to learn because he has so much to teach. When I first interacted with him, in 2019, I was still a bit afraid to ask questions, but now it’s evolved so much and he sometimes calls me to check how things are going. There’s great, open communication between us.”

Brazil (BRA) vs. Serbia (SRB) women - Pool 4 - Preliminary Phase #4976916

Julia was a key player for Brazil during the VNL 2023

Born in Munich, Germany, to a German father and a Brazilian mother, she moved to Brazil at a very young age and then started to work her way up in the volleyball scene in the country until becoming one of the most exciting new faces to emerge in the nation in the last few years.

While competing around the world with the national team, Julia has also been able to experience first-hand the warmth of Brazilian fans.

“Our fans are always with us, even after difficult losses,” she reflected. “Everywhere we go, we see Brazilian fans in the stands and it's really impressive how much they love volleyball and our team.”

Paris 2024 on the horizon

The Brazilian outside hitter has gone through all sorts of different experiences in her still young career, but the biggest of them is yet to come next year, with the Paris Olympics. As she prepares to face the most exciting moments of her career, but also the ones in which she will have to deal with the most pressure, Julia tries to remind herself what her journey is all about.

“When I’m on the court, I just try to remind myself that I’ve practiced for that moment for so long and that I’ve dealt with many ups and downs throughout my career,” she added. “So that’s the moment to just do what I know and play volleyball. Even when things aren’t going well, I like to think that we can always push through the hard moments. It’s about talking to people, taking a deep breath and trusting myself. Sometimes, all you have to do is start from zero.”