Leading the way for Brock women’s volleyball

Christina Jovetic knows this is her last ride, but she doesn’t take a single day for granted with the Brock women’s volleyball team.

Her Badger teammates describe their senior team captain as a ‘mother figure’ because her leadership style is steady, cool headed and responsible.

“We’re proud of what she brings to the team in terms of leadership,” said head coach Steve Delaney. “She excels in all facets of being a student-athlete and that’s why she’s the coach’s appointed captain.”

Jovetic’s calm composure was a key ingredient in helping the Badgers pull off a five-set victory despite trailing 2-0 to the visiting Queen’s Gaels in the Ontario University Athletics (OUA) Quigley Cup at Brock University on Saturday, March 11.

Teammate, and fellow middle, Grace Pyatt made the game-winning block to win the fifth set 15-13. Following the game, she credited Jovetic as inspiration in completing the comeback.

A female athlete stands in front of a volleyball net with a ball.

Fourth-year Kinesiology student Christina Jovetic is the captain of the Brock women’s volleyball team.

“Christina came up to me during a critical timeout in the game and told me how much confidence she had in me and that I would go out there and get the winning block,” Pyatt said. “She believed in me and helped us through the immense pressure we faced in that moment.”

Jovetic and the Badgers are returning to the U SPORTS Championships for a third consecutive season after placing sixth overall last year.

“We’re excited to go back because there’s some unfinished business there,” Jovetic said. “Last season, we weren’t quite sure what to expect, but this season we’re more equipped with experience.”

Jovetic’s volleyball journey began at the age of 12 when she tried out for the Niagara Rapids Volleyball Club and was quickly selected for the top team in her age group.

“I went to that first tryout to have a good time with my friends, but I didn’t know what would come of it,” said the 6-foot-2 Niagara Falls native. “I fell in love with the sport and everything else I tried never felt the same as I do when I play volleyball.”

After graduating from Westlane Secondary School, Jovetic chose to enrol in Brock’s Kinesiology program. The welcoming environment of the University, and the varsity women’s volleyball team, made the choice easy for her.

“The whole school feels like home. When I first met the team, they were welcoming and supportive when I was clearly nervous,” she said. “I knew then that this was the school I wanted to go to.”

On the court, Jovetic’s development as a player coincided with the program’s trajectory as one of the top teams in the country.

“CJ joined our program as a right side and she barely played. She was always effective at using her height and physicality, but she was a little behind in some of her fundamental volleyball skills,” Delaney said. “When we moved her to middle in her second year it was like a dream come true. She’s developed into one of the best middle blockers in the league because of her hard work and determination.”

Alongside Pyatt, the duo combined for 63 per cent of the team’s blocks.

Offensively, Jovetic enjoyed a career-high hitting percentage (.318) this season while contributing 121.5 points. She finished the regular season fifth in the conference in service aces per set (0.42).

Jovetic attributes her success to her teammates.

“I’m grateful for this group of incredible women. Everyone on our team contributes to our winning attitude. We have super stars on our team like Gigi Markotic, who pushes us to play free and is everyone’s biggest supporter,” Jovetic said. “She is an all-around electric and phenomenal person who can lighten up the mood and make a bad day so much better.”

She added that her leadership qualities are drawn from former teammate Emily Armstrong (BA ’21).

“Emily pushed us every day in practice to be better and made each season the most memorable it could be. I constantly reflect on everything I learned from her as a leader,” Jovetic said. “On Saturday, I looked up at her in the crowd when we were down 2-0. In that moment, I recalled how much she pushed us and it ignited me to push these women to win the next three sets and take the title back. She is the reason I am the leader I am today. I do it all because of her.”

Brock is the No. 2 seed for the upcoming U SPORTS Championships and opens the quarter-finals against the host school, the University of British Columbia, on Friday, March 17 at 9 p.m. EST.

All games from the eight-team competition will be webcast live on CBC Sports digital platforms and USPORTS.ca

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