Four new additions coming to volleyball team

Jonathan Jacobskind/Staff Writer

jonathan.jacobskind@fiusm.com

The FIU volleyball squad will have four new faces added to the roster in what is newly hired head coach Trevor Theroulde’s first recruiting class. Lucia Castro, Maryna Samoday, Kimberly Smith and Brittany Spencer will don the blue and gold this fall after signing National Letters of Intent.

With the addition of this latest group, it brings the 2012 signing class to a total of seven players. Castro, Samoday, Smith and Spencer will coincide with new teammates Ashlee Hodgskin, Gloria Levorin, and Hayley Miller, who committed to be Panthers
back in November 2011.

“This offseason, I have been extremely busy trying to recruit a different type of athlete that FIU will see on the court this year,” Theroulde said. “They’re bigger, stronger and more athletic. It’s not only the best but the largest we have brought in since I’ve been here.”

Castro, a Puerto Rican native, received several outstanding accolades at Caribbean School, reeling in multiple MVP honors and was awarded the 2010 Athlete of
the Year.

Her success in high school transitions well on a national landscape as the 6-foot-1 highly touted right side is also a key member of the Puerto Rican National Team.

“Lucia is a very physical player, and she understands the game because of her international experience while representing Puerto Rico at the World Youth
Championships,” Theroulde said.

Samoday, an outside hitter, will be a dual threat for FIU as the former Seminole State College Trojan will be suiting up for the Panthers on the hard court as well as on the sand for the FIU Sand Volleyball team in their 2013 inaugural season.

Hailing from Suny, Ukraine, Samoday led the Trojans to a third straight Region II Championship in 2011, completing the three-peat. Samoday earned MVP All-Region honors in 2010.

“[Maryna] dominated at the junior college level, she is an outstanding sand volleyball player and went to the international semi-final.” Therould commented. “When
you speak to her she has a unique understanding of the game, almost like a coach. Together with her abilities she will be great for this new [team] dynamic. I really hope that she can start because it will push our seniors to play at a higher level.”

Smith, the former Robert Morris University-Illinois Eagle, comes to FIU being ranked in the Top 35 NAIA national rankings in hitting percentage, total blocks and blocks per game in 2011. Her high caliber level of play transcended into victories for the Eagles as she led the squad to a CCAC Championship in 2011, solidifying her spot on the All-Conference First Team and Honorable Mention All-Region honors.

“Kimberly [Smith] can start for us this year, but the easy part is telling them they can start and then they get lackadaisical and become lazy,” Theroulde iterated.

Spencer, a Chesterfield, Va. Native had a star-studded career during her tenure at Matoaca High School, earning First Team All-District honors. The 6-foot-2 middle
blocker received top-25 recognition for hitting efficiency with a mark of 40.9 percent while playing for Miami-Dade Community College in her first year of collegiate
volleyball.

“Brittany is a player who will work to maximize her potential,” Theroulde said. “If she does what she is capable of doing and continues to progress in the manner
she has been, FIU fans are in for a treat.”

Along with Castro, Smith has club experience as she played volleyball for U-Turn Sports Performance Academy in Virginia.

Castro, Samoday, Smith and Spencer all were in hot pursuit by some of the top volleyball programs in the nation, which begs to answer, why FIU?

“FIU is a unique campus. Once [the student athletes] were on campus they fell in love with the different cultures which was critical.” Theroulde stated. “They saw a lot of growth. They saw the construction of new dorms, they saw improvements in the football facility and improvements in the arena…FIU is growing in terms of their international business, engineering and hospitality management school. These kids looked at it and said you know what these schools are some of the top programs in the country so I have to come to FIU.”

Theroulde is confident the new signees will immediately mesh with the current players on the roster preaching a new dynamic and depth.

“What we want to do is create depth. We want players that can come off the depth and make an impact.” Theroulde said. “We are looking for some kind of team cohesion with the old players to create that new dynamic.”

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