By Anders Jorstad - STAFF WRITER
A star is on the rise in a brilliant season for the women’s volleyball team. Her name is Veronika Kostova.
The sophomore outside hitter has seen an incredible change in playing time this season due to her excellent play beside star and fellow outside hitter Kelsie Wills.
Kostova is currently fourth on the squad with 2.40 kills per game and should be Hofstra’s go-to option on the offensive attack next season.
Kostova, a native of Hamburg, Germany, started playing volleyball when she was 12. “I actually never played a team sport before that and I don’t really know how I got into it,” remarked Kostova. “It seemed interesting. I saw one of my friends playing it and then I just tried it and loved it.”
One might think adjusting to playing the sport in a different country would be difficult. There are bound to be some differences in playing style and coaching style, but Kostova says the adjustment was pretty easy for her. “It seemed different in the beginning but it’s actually not that different,” Kostova recalled. “It’s just that the coach here is different and the surroundings are different but the play is not really different.”
Deciding to play in a completely different country was a big decision to make.
Kostova talked about the recruiting process and said, “I definitely wanted to keep playing volleyball [in college]. The thing is, in Germany, or Europe in general, there is no such thing as playing for your school. So I had to decide between just academics or just volleyball but I heard that here there is a pretty good combination of it.”
In fact, the biggest adjustment Kostova had to make in her career wasn’t changing countries, but rather swapping positions.
“I switched positions [from middle blocker to outside hitter] so that was a pretty big deal,” she said. “I never played anything else but middle [blocker] before that and they just put me there and tried it and it worked out. It’s just different. Timing is different and you have to pay attention to different things.”
The Pride is currently enjoying an exciting season and finished with a 26-5 record. The regular season has drawn to a close and the conference tournament is set to begin on Saturday, Nov. 22.
When asked about the most challenging part in preparing for the crucial tournament, Kostova said, “For the team, [the hardest part] has been mentally preparing for it. We’re a pretty good team physically. We have everything. We’re pretty tall [and] we’re really good players. But we’re really struggling to be mentally prepared and really be focused for the game [on Saturday]. That’s the most important thing for us.”
It isn’t easy playing a season of 31 games immediately followed by a high-stakes, single-elimination tournament, but Kostova is confident about her team’s chances. “I know that we’re a really good team this year. We’re the best team. I know it. I want to show everyone what we can do.”
Kostova has already been a major player on the team, but will become one of the leaders next season when some of the teams top attackers (Kelsie Wills, Adama Aja, Emily Burke and Naria Lopes da Silva) graduate.
Kostova and the second-seeded volleyball squad will travel to Charleston, S.C. this weekend for the CAA Tournament. A title would be the first for Hofstra since 2012.