Photo by Jeff Yoder
Your Prep Sports
IOWA CITY – As Jaedynn Evans walks around the gym before practice the Regina senior doesn’t stop talking.
With a spring in her step and wearing a wide smile on her face Evans makes her way from one teammate to another laughing, joking and talking.
Watching the way Evans interacts with her teammates it’s hard to believe she was one nervous to strike up a conversation.
“I actually didn’t like talking to a lot of people,” Evans explained. “I had a hard time walking up and talking to someone.”
It has been volleyball that has helped Evans come out of that shell.
A supremely talented player that ranks among the top hitting threats in Class 2A, Evans hasn’t just grown as a volleyball player during her prep career, she’s matured as a person and a leader.
“She has just blossomed so much and opened up so much it’s been fun to see,” Regina coach Jordyn Akers said. “During camp and the first week of practice we made the returners go with a player that is new to the program and she went with a different partner every day. That was really cool to see and it was really nice to see her take charge and find someone different every day.”
That maturity will come in handy for Evans this season.
As much as Regina will rely on Evans on the court this season, the 5-foot-9 senior is the only Regal returning with more than 100 kills, they will lean on Evans even more off the court.
Regina must replace five starters from last year’s team that finished 28-9 and reached the state tournament putting Evans firmly into a leadership role.
A few years ago that would have been an uncomfortable spot for Evans. As a senior she embraces the role of having other players look to her for guidance.
“When I was younger I was probably the worst attitude person on the team,” Evans said. “As I’ve gotten older I see that attitude is the number one thing that you need so I’ve tried to improve on that.”
Evans admits she still doesn’t like speaking in big groups and she can be shy at times but her volleyball career has forced her to get comfortable around new people and she is glad it has.
After leading Mid-Prairie in kills as a freshman and sophomore Evans transferred to Regina for her junior season.
Interacting with new teammates wasn’t anything new for Evans.
Her Iowa Rockets club team changes players often and the older she got the more comfortable Evans became playing with and interacting with her teammates.
“With Rockets I don’t have the same team every year so it’s new all the time and I just have so much fun getting to know new girls all the time,” Evans said. “I feel like socially I’ve gotten a lot better. Going new places it helps so much.”
As Evans began to open up off the court her game on it flourished.
Evans hammered 275 kills and ranked third on the team with 369 digs a year ago while earning Elite Team All-Conference honors in the River Valley Conference.
She spent the summer playing high-level club for the Rockets, placing third at nationals.
Between that she was a regular at Regina open gyms where she continued to build a bond with her teammates while working on her individual game.
“It was nice to see her take that hour and a half or so out of that day and just focus on the little technique of things rather than just coming in and blowing through things and seeing how fast she could go through it,” Akers said. “We did a lot of arm swings through the summer and it was nice to see her take that time and go through all the technique rather than just come in and go through the motions.”
Evans is hoping that time together pays off this season.
Despite replacing five regulars from a team that won 28 games Evans sees strengths returning in the Regina lineup.
The Regals went 2-2 at the season-opening West Branch tournament as Evans hammered a team-high 31 kills.
Her 3.9 kills per set is the highest since she put up 4.6 as a sophomore.
A Central Michigan commit Evans needs 92 kills to reach 1,000 for her career.
“We have a whole new team so we just have to figure out what is going to work best and I think we will all improve a lot just playing together,” Evans said. “With new girls all the time it brings something new, like different strengths which will help a lot.”