Sophomore volleyball standout earns high expectations

Sophomore libero Ashtyn Kapovich dives for a dig during practice. Kapovich, the reigning 2014 GSC Volleyball Freshman of the Year, hopes to lead her team to a conference championship this season.

Can you dig it?

Ashtyn Kapovich can. UNA’s starting libero, a 5-foot-5 sophomore from Lansing, Illinois, led the Gulf South Conference in digs and digs per set last season on her way to becoming the GSC Volleyball Freshman of the Year.

Kapovich, who saw action in all of UNA’s 32 matches last season, also led the team in service aces and racked up GSC Freshman of the Week and GSC Defensive Player of the Week honors.

“She’s just an unbelievable athlete and she’s one of those kids that there’s not many skills that she doesn’t have,” said head coach Stephanie Radecki, now entering her 12th season at UNA. “Ashtyn’s reached that level where we don’t really nag her about the little things because generally the ball goes where we want it to go. She’s very gifted.”

Kapovich said being a great libero is not just about skill but also being able to focus and being coachable.

“I think concentration, working hard at practice and getting better every day (is key),” she said. “And then you listen to your coaches and get those small feedbacks and then it’s taking any mistakes you make and fixing them.”

With a year of experience under her belt, the expectations for the GSC Preseason All-GSC Team player have risen quickly.

“We definitely expect her to be a leader on the court,” Radecki said. “I think (setter and libero) are two of the really key positions to have that leadership role and demanding more from their teammates all the time and that’s something Ashtyn needs to look to do this year.”

Sophomore outside hitter Lexie Bradley said Kapovich is an ideal teammate she would want to have on her side of the court.

“She’s a great teammate because she is so competitive in everything she does,” Bradley said. “It really helps drive us in drills during practice.”

Bradley said having Kapovich at the libero position gives the Lions an advantage in most cases.

“It’s extremely important to have a great player at libero,” Bradley said. “Without that first great dig from our libero, our setter cannot get a good set and our hitters cannot get a good attack.”

Aside from their “on the court” relationship, Bradley said Kapovich is the type of person she could trust off the court.

“She always has your back on and off the court and that kind of trust in a teammate is priceless,” she said.

Like her coach and teammates, Kapovich has expectations for another great year this year.

“I’m just going to do the best that I can and I’m going to play with the team and try to help us win games,” she said. “Since we were so close to a ring last year I really want to push for that again this year.”

Kapovich begins her sophomore campaign Sept. 4 in the Tony Banner Invitational at Clarion, Pennsylvania.