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Jayci Suseland’s love of volleyball started in seventh grade, when she was allowed to play for her high school’s team. Fast forward to nine years later, where she’s the Marauder’s Women’s Volleyball team opposite. In just one season, Suseland went from newbie to team staple.
Suseland actually started off her college volleyball career at Grand Valley State University in Michigan, her home state. After two seasons, she decided the school just wasn’t a right fit, and searched for other options. Being that one of her sisters already lived in the area, she decided to transfer to Millersville and restart her career.
“After my second season at my old school, I didn’t love it,” Suseland said. She figured that the college experience was the right time to choose her own happiness. “You pick how you feel. If you don’t want to be around a person, or you don’t want to be at a school, you can leave… I just wanted to be happier. Coming [to Millersville] is definitely something that made me happier.”
In deciding where she wanted to go, she came across a video of Head Coach Brian Smith; she watched the video and thought, “he might be the coach I want to play for; someone that I could connect with. So, that’s kind of how that switch happened.”
In the beginning of August, Suseland moved from all the way from Michigan to Millersville, and quickly found herself fitting in with the team.
“When I visited last winter break, I met Lindsey [Blevins] and Kat [Forry], and I could tell I liked them as soon as I met them. It’s always hard moving somewhere new,” Suseland said. “Within the first couple of practices, I just knew that we were going to trust each other, and that it was just going to work. And then we all ended up clicking during preseason. We’ve been hanging out since.”
The change from Michigan to Millersville was a relatively easy one; upon arrival, Suseland was greeted with enthusiastic coaches and team members. “It was a roller coaster, figuring out where we were going to put everyone. I thought that everyone really stepped up and did their best and played hard. But, there were times where we didn’t have everything figured out and it was rough, but by the end of the season, everything clicked and it was really good.”
As a team, the Marauders made it to the quarterfinals at the PSAC Championship. Suseland was honored at the championship as first team All-PSAC, along with teammate Lindsey Blevins (who received a third team honor); this marked the first time that Millersville has had two All-PSAC team members since 2013.
In addition, Suseland was recently recognized with a golden volleyball after performing 1000 kills over her college career. “I was really surprised,” Suseland said. “I didn’t really know I had that many.”
While some people may have let these two huge accomplishments get to their head, Suseland remains humble and focused. “I mean, I have personal goals on the court – I think everyone does – but I don’t put those above the team goals, so I think that’s important for everyone to remember,” Suseland said. “It’s a team sport, it’s not an individual sport.”
Despite the fact that Suseland has only lived in the area for a short while, she puts her trust fully into her team — and they do the same with her.
“[I thank] the girls on the team for trusting me, setting me the ball, and for giving good passes, I have to give credit to them, too. I didn’t do this myself. I think that probably my favorite part of my whole season was becoming close with the girls on and off the court. There’s those other things to celebrate, but…” Suseland trailed off.
“I never wasn’t looking forward to practice, I never thought that we were going to lose anything,” Suseland said. “I just knew that we were going to go, we’re going to play hard, and we’re going to win.”
Even though this year’s volleyball season has come to a close, Suseland’s mind is already on next year’s season; she’s hitting the ground running (literally). Suseland said that she’s starting to hit the gym regularly, and she’s encouraging her teammates to do the same. “I just think that if we work hard right now to get in better shape, we can go further than what we did this year,” Suseland said.
“It’s really sad that it’s over, because you have to wait a long time for the next season to start, but I couldn’t be more excited,” Suseland said. “I can’t stop thinking about it.”