Mariliisa Salmi Athlete Profile

#5 Mariliisa Salmi

Position: Setter Height: 5-10 Roster Years: 1984-1987 Hometown: Kurikka, Finland Hall of Fame: 2011

  • 2011 Women's Volleyball




All-America

  • 1986 Volleyball Monthly First Team
  • 1986 CVCA/Russell Second Team
  • 1987 AVCA First Team
  • 1987 Volleyball Monthly First Team

2011 Hall of Fame Inductee

As a four-time All-American, Mariliisa Salmi became one of the most honored players in the history of BYU women's volleyball. She later took her talents to improve volleyball in her native country of Finland.

Salmi enjoyed a remarkable career as the setter for the Cougars from 1984-1987. During that time she was a also member of the Finnish National Volleyball team and competed in Israel, Greece and the European Championships in 1985. As a junior in 1986, Salmi was named the CVCA Division I Women’s Volleyball Player of the Year, the High Country Athletic Conference Player of the Year and received her first All-American citation being named to the CVCA All-America First Team. 

Salmi finished the season with 1,511 set assists, averaging 11.19 per game and had 253 digs. Salmi continued her extraordinary campaign as a senior and was named the HCAC Player of the Year for a second time and was selected to the AVCA/Russell Athletic All-America First Team. She also was an All-HCAC First Team award winner and the Reebok Division I Player of the Year.

After leaving BYU, Salmi continued her playing career with the Finnish National Team, playing in 235 matches. Her professional career took her all over Europe and included an appearance at the European Championship Tournament in 1989, three Western European Championship Tournaments and several Scandinavian Championships. Playing in her native country, Salmi was selected as the best volleyball player in Finland four times. She helped lead her team to five Finnish Championships and four Finnish Cup Titles. During her time playing in France, she was honored as the best setter in the French volleyball league.

At the conclusion of her playing days, Salmi decided to continue to pursue her love of volleyball through coaching. Salmi was the Finnish National Team Manager/Assistant Coach from 2004-2006 and the Junior National Team Coach in 2006. In her local area, Salmi has been a club team coach since 1996 and currently serves as the head coach of the volleyball academy.

Salmi married Petteri Opas in 1994. Her husband owns and operates a photo store and she works as a physiotherapist in Terveystalo, Finland. The couple has two children, Ninni (14) and Perttu (13). Both children enjoy sports and especially love basketball. Ninni currently plays basketball for the Finnish National Team. The family also has two brown Labrador retrievers.

Personal

  • Originally from Kurikka, Finland
  • Married to Petteri Opas and has two children

Career Highlights

National

  • Four-time All-American
  • Volleyball Monthly Third Team 1985
  • CVCA Second Team 1985
  • Volleyball Monthly First Team 1986
  • CVCA First Team 1986
  • CVCA National Player of the Year 1986
  • Named to the 1986 and 1987 NCAA West Regional All-Tournament Teams

Regional

  • Named to the 1987 AVCA All-Northwest First Team
  • Named to the 1986 CVCA All-Northwest First Team

Conference

  • HCAC Player of the Year 1986, 1987
  • Named to the 1986 and 1987 All-HCAC First Teams
  • Two-time HCAC Player of the Week

BYU

  • Cougar Club Y Award Crowd Pleaser Award recipient 1986-87
  • Cougar Club Y Award Outstanding Senior Female Athlete Award recipient 1987-88
  • Tied for BYU’s single-match ace record
  • Second all-time at BYU in single-match assists

Before BYU

  • Member of Finnish national team
  • Competed in Israel, Greece, and European championships in 1985
  • No. 1 setter for Finland in the summer of 1986

After BYU

  • Played for the Finnish National Volleyball Team
  • Member of the French volleyball league
  • Played in the European Championship Tournament 1989
  • Played in three Western European Championship Tournaments
  • Played in several Scandinavian Championships
  • Finnish National Team Manager/Assistant Coach 2004-2006
  • Junior National Team Coach 2006
  • Club Volleyball Coach since 1996
  • Head coach of the volleyball academy
  • Works as a physiotherapist in Terveystalo, Finland

Post BYU Honors and Societies

  • Selected as the best volleyball player in Finland four times
  • Led her team to five Finnish Championships and four Finnish Cup Titles
  • Honored as the best setter in the French volleyball league
  • Inducted into the BYU Hall of Fame in 2011


1984 | Freshman Year

  • All-American

1985 | Sophomore Year

  • Volleyball Monthly Third Team 1985
  • CVCA Second Team 1985

1986 | Junior Year

  • CVCA Division I Women’s Volleyball Player of the Year
  • Named to the CVCA All-America First Team
  • HCAC Player of the Year
  • All-Tournament selections in the San Diego Invitational, BYU Invitational, UCLA National Invitational Volleyball Tournament and the Florida Gator Holiday Festival
  • MVP of the BYU and UCLA Invitationals
  • Finished the regular season with 1,511 set assists averaging 11.19 per game
  • Also compiled 253 digs

1987 | Senior Year

  • HCAC Player of the Year
  • Voted to the NCAA West Region All-Tournament Team
  • Named to the All-HCAC First Team
  • Selected to the Asics-Tiger/Volleyball Monthly Preseason All-America First Team
  • Selected MVP of the BYU Invitational
  • Nominated for the Broderick Award in volleyball
  • Named to the AVCA/Russell Athletic All-America First Team
  • Named the Reebok Division I Player of the Year