Oct. 25, 2007
SPARTANBURG, S.C. - Junior volleyball player Jovana Lubura stands tall at 6-1 and has been an imposing figure for opponents to deal with this season. Lubura is currently fourth on the team with 2.08 kills per game and recently tied a season-high with 18 kills against Gardner-Webb on Oct. 20. She, along with Tijana Knezevic, came to USC Upstate by way of New Mexico Military Institute and is a native of Serbia.
Recently, Lubura sat down with Adam Walker of upstatespartans.com to talk about her play this season, her junior college experience in New Mexico and the volleyball coaching staff.
US.com: What has the transition from Division II to Division I been like for the volleyball team?
Jovana Lubura: The rules are a little different in Division I. I think that it was hard for the coaches to adapt to that a bit. As a team, I think we have adapted pretty well considering we had just three returning starters and everyone has only played in Division II and junior college.
US.com: How would you assess your play so far this season?
JL: I didn't play my best at the beginning of the season. We started well and I wasn't playing too bad, but it wasn't the best I could do. I had a back injury that messed me up a little bit. The last few games, I've been at about 90 percent, so I'm trying to get back to that 100 percent level and get some good kills.
US.com: How big was the first Atlantic Sun Conference win at Stetson on Oct. 13 for the team?
JL: I think that was our most important win of the season and it seriously improved the morale of the team. It made our confidence higher, brought the team closer and we've played better afterwards.
US.com: What do you tell people when they ask you about your home country of Serbia?
JL: In America, everyone says it's the country of the free. Serbia is like that as well even though there are parts where the political scene says it's not that free...I tell students that it is very beautiful and it's nice to visit. It's green and we have mountains and a seaside.
US.com: What was your experience like at junior college in New Mexico?
JL: Because it was New Mexico Military Institute, it was pretty much different than anything I expected. But I can say that it was a good experience. It made me get better in competition, I had some good coaches and I loved the teachers.
US.com: How much of an adjustment did you have to make when you first came to the United States?
JL: It wasn't that big. I expected and I knew more about things here that people here knew about Serbia. It was hard for me to adjust to people here as it was for people to adjust to me with the cultural differences. There are things that are normal in Serbia that are not normal here. The only hard part was the long distance relationship with my family. I really miss my brother and my mom a lot.
US.com: Why did you decide to come to Upstate?
JL: When I came to visit, I loved coach (Jennifer Calloway), the members of the team and the school. I liked the way people behaved here as well as the athletic department and the academic part of the school. I liked it here more than the other schools that wanted me.
US.com: What do you do during your free time when you are not in class or practicing and playing volleyball?
JL: Most of the time I talk to my mom and brother. I really don't have a lot of free time this semester, but I'm probably going to have to do something with my free time next semester during the off-season. Right now, I'm just trying to get some rest so I can prepare for practice, classes and studying.
US.com: How would you describe your head coach, Jennifer Calloway?
JL: She is a really good coach and I think her, (assistant coach Joe) Bowman and (assistant coach) Ashley (Stathas) just fit in with one another and make it good to be on this team. I think she really, really cares about this team and we care about her, too. She put a team together, and got 13 girls that really work well together.
US.com: Are you enjoying USC Upstate so far?
JL: Yes, everyone is very nice and they don't get mad very easily. People at this school are very relaxed and everyone just goes about their business from what I've seen. I like it here.