The USA U18 girls volleyball team was named world champions this past September in Egypt. The team is made up of girls from across the entire country, including Mercy senior Jess Mruzik.
Mruzik has been playing volleyball at Mercy since she was a freshman, and joined the USA team last summer. Mruzik has had the opportunity to train and compete across the country and globe. Her team qualified for the world championships last summer while playing in Honduras, and more recently spent time in California training before heading off to Egypt for 10 days.
Competing in Egypt was an experience unlike anything Mruzik had done before in many ways. In terms of volleyball, both the venue and competition itself were unique.
“[The] games were crazy,” said Mruzik. “They were in this huge stadium that held [about] 4,000 people, which was really cool.”
Mruzik also noted that everyone around the world plays volleyball a little bit differently, and she loves the opportunity to see and experience these differences.
Aside from the volleyball court, Egypt allowed Mruzik to appreciate another part of the world. For example, Mruzik and her teammates did not wear shorts or tank tops in the 100 degree heat out of respect for the Egyptian culture.
“Overall, it was really cool seeing a totally different way of life,” said Mruzik.
Mruzik and the rest of the USA team started the championship focused on making it to the playoffs. They gave each game all they had and once they successfully found themselves in the playoffs, their focus shifted to winning the championship.
“We started setting our goals toward winning,” said Mruzik. “But you can’t go into a world championship [expecting] to win because everyone is crazy good.”
Receiving the title of world champion is a major accomplishment that Mruzik was able to bring home to Mercy. Her Mercy volleyball teammate and school community are very proud of Mruzik, what she has achieved, and what the future holds for her.
Mruzik plans to graduate from Mercy at the end of this semester and begin her college journey at The University of Michigan in the beginning of 2020 to further her volleyball career.
“I’m excited to get there [and] get a few classes done so I don’t have to load up [on classes] during the season,” said Mruzik. “I feel like I’m ready for that next step.”