Rosa, Sander, Severina, NJCAA All-American Watkins all find four-year homes
Yuma, Arizona – July 3, 2013 -- Arizona Western College is proud to announce that four members of the AWC Volleyball team have signed on to attend four-year universities and play volleyball this coming fall. Matadors’ outside hitter Paula Rosa and opposite/middle blocker Polina Severina (poh-LEE-nuh SEHV-vuhr-ih-nuh) have both committed to Columbia College of Missouri in Columbia, Missouri; middle blocker Shelby Sander is headed to Central Methodist University in Fayette, Missouri; and fellow middle blocker Amanda Watkins is bound for Texas State University in San Marcos, Texas. The announcements come eight months after the four led the Lady Matadors to the team’s first Region I Championship since 2007, and six weeks since the four graduated from AWC.
She spent two years with the tag that AWC Head Volleyball Coach Jason Smith put on her of “the most skilled player in the conference”, and few that watched her ‘climb the ladder’ to make a hammer kill would disagree with that assessment of Paula Rosa. Opponents had no idea where to put the ball to keep it away from her, since her versatility on offense and defense-and being able to know where the opposing kill attempt was headed-was a huge strength. The native of Curitiba, Brazil, not only led the team in digs (327) and digs per set (3.63) on the defensive side, but she was also tied for the team lead in kills (207), and 2nd in kills per set (2.3) on offense. Rosa also had one of the most powerful jump serves in the conference, and her 47 service aces was 3rd-best in the ACCAC. Rosa earned 1st Team All-Region I & 2nd Team All-ACCAC honors following the season.
While you might never know it from her even-keeled demeanor on the court, the resolve and resilience of Polina Severina was a common vein in the Lady Matadors’ playoff run in 2012. Severina was expected to come in and contribute immediately as a freshman, and she did until mid-September when a season-ending leg injury derailed that plan. However, the native of Moscow, Russia, used that setback as major motivation to the make her two-year Matador career a ‘happily ever after’ story by getting healthy and working on the aspects of her game that she could during her rehabilitation. When she took the floor for her sophomore year last September, fans could immediately see the improvement. So did opposing middle blockers, since Severina’s defense came to the forefront in the big matches, including a season-high 6 blocks in her final match as a Matador in the District C Championship against Redlands. Severina finished her sophomore campaign 3rd on the team in total blocks (51), 5th in kills (98), 51 total blocks (T-3rd), and 62 digs. Both Rosa and Severina now head to a Lady Cougars’ program that finished as the NAIA National Championship runnerup a year ago.
Like Severina, Shelby Sander was a study in determination and continuous improvement-especially during her sophomore campaign. The Pendleton, Oregon native saw limited action on the court during her two years at AWC, but made the most of what she received, and certainly made a strong impression on the home fans during her final regular season home match against Yavapai, getting the start, and making a couple of ‘highlight reel’ plays. Sander finished the 2012 campaign with a dozen kills in her 9 matches, with an ace, 6 blocks and an assist.
Finally, Smith knows it will be difficult to fill the void in the middle left by Amanda Watkins after she accomplished just about everything possible during her two-year career. It was a quiet ascent for Watkins as a freshman-except to opposing coaches, who showered her with respect and a 1st Team All-ACCAC/All-Region I selection. It set a very high bar for the Los Angeles, California, native as she became a sophomore, but didn’t deter her from besting her first-year marks. Her hitting efficiency of .334 led the Matadors all season, but her defense garnered national attention, since her 1.4 blocks-per-set average placed her 7th in the nation, her 54 solo blocks was 9th-best, and her 126 total blocks was among the NJCAA Top 25. Watkins was also 4th on the team in kills (170) in kills per set (1.89). Watkins earned 1st Team All-Region I & All-ACCAC honors and an NJCAA Honorable Mention All-American selection after the season. She now heads to a Lady Bobcat program that is just two years removed from a 27-win season that saw them reach the NCAA Tournament.
While he shows a touch of sadness when thinking about the departures of not just the four above but also fellow sophomore Carolyn Sosa (who is staying on campus to play for the first-ever AWC Women’s Soccer team while attending Northern Arizona University-Yuma this fall) from his program, Smith beams with pride when he thinks about their accomplishments. “This group of young ladies have achieved so much here for the Matador Volleyball family,” said Smith. “This season, we won the Region I title, were once again Academic All-Americans as a team, and each sophomore received a scholarship to continue their education. I am very proud of how these ladies represent Arizona Western Volleyball!”