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Recruits to the volleyball program bring optimism

By Jacob Summerville
On June 12, 2018

Volleyball Head Coach Jim Smoot oversees a Lady Lions match. The volleyball team gained two players, transfer student Tijana “Jo” Simovic and incoming freshman Amanda Caluda for its upcoming season. File Photo/The Lion’s Roar

The university’s volleyball team signed an incoming freshman and a transfer player to its 2018-2019 roster.

Junior Tijana “Jo” Simovic from Garden City Community College and freshman Amanda Caluda from Northshore High School have joined the Lady Lions for next fall. According to Assistant Coach Alison Chevalier, both players are “definitely going to make an immediate impact this season.”

A native of Serbia, Simovic played for two community colleges prior to her start at the university. Last season, she made 83 kills and 39 blocks within 34 matches.

Chevalier described how Simovic’s talent will boost the energy for this season.

“She’s extremely explosive in the front row and has lots of control,” said Chevalier. “She’s going to come into our program and bring some immediate experience and some fire that we’re really going to need coming into this 2018 season.”

Chevalier also discussed Caluda’s attributes on the court.

“She is a back-row player, super scrappy, and she’s the kind of kid that’s just going to be a really good defensive powerhouse for us in the back row,” said Chevalier.

According to Chevalier, the recruitment process for transfer players and incoming freshmen differs. She explained how there’s “less uncertainty” with a transfer player due to more collegiate experience. 

“We had Jo on campus,” said Chevalier. “She kind of knew right away that this was the place she wanted to be. With incoming freshmen, it’s usually a little bit more of a longer process. They want to go and make sure they’re visiting a lot of different schools so that they don’t make the wrong decision.”

Chevalier stated that although the team is looking for new recruits, the selection process is meticulous.

“We want to get the kind of players that are going to come in, make a difference, improve the program and get us going in the right direction,” said Chevalier. “So, we are being a little bit picky, a little bit choosy, and we’re really getting to know the players’ characters and how they are athletically and physically.”

Both Simovic and Caluda will undertake workout packets during the summer prior to joining the rest of the team in the preseason on Aug. 6.

Following a 3-27 record last season, Chevalier explained the aspects of practice and pregame time that will change to improve the program.

“We’re making some cultural changes in our program as a whole, just to have a little more of a mindset of a winning attitude and a little bit more discipline,” said Chevalier. “There’s some new traditions that we’re going to start up coming in this season to make sure that we don’t have a repeat of last year’s record and we’re going forward in the right direction.”

Assistant Coach Alison Chevalier instructs the team at a practice session. The Lady Lions finished last season 3-27 overall. File Photo/The Lion’s Roar


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