FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – After the postponement of the 2020 volleyball season due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Nova Southeastern volleyball team has its eyes set on a successful 2021 season, adding five newcomers to their roster. Joining the team for the upcoming season are Bruna Avila, Jovana Bulatovic, Jordan “JoJo” Chessar, Kate Mihacevich and Cambry Pope.
“Having our season cancelled this past year was hard, but also allowed us time in the gym to train and really figure out the needs of our team moving forward,” explained head coach Brian Rosen. “After one of the best seasons in program history in 2019 and ending the year on a six-game winning streak, we look ahead to the fall of 2021 with big goals in mind, and I could not be more excited about this incoming class that will be joining our Shark family in August. Each student athlete will not only add to our team’s ability to be successful in matches, but more importantly, add to the family culture that we have worked so hard to establish here at NSU both on and off the court. I think my favorite part about this year’s incoming class is the fact that each and every one of them wanted to be here so badly. Their passion for this university was clear from day one.”
Bruna Avila – University of South Carolina Upstate
Coming from Brazil to Daytona State College, Avila was named First Team All-Conference, AVCA All-Region, AVCA All-American, and the Roberta Stokes Award winner for the conference as the top student-athlete graduating with a perfect 4.0 GPA. Her success continued at NCAA DI member USC Upstate where she helped lead the Spartans to its second .500 or better season in program history. After sharing setting duties most of the season, she was moved into the full-time setting role with six matches to go, going on to win all six matches. As a Spartan, Avila averaged a Big South Conference-best 11.3 assists/set and had two double-doubles. She also finished third overall in the Big South in assists per set.
“Bruna may be one of the nicest people I’ve ever met, but she is a fierce competitor on the court,” said Rosen. “Bruna will be able to come in and instantly improve our offensive efficiency. She brings a tremendous amount of experience to a young positional group. I also love her ability to play defense as a setter. Her nonstop effort will fit in perfectly with our gym culture. I cannot wait to see what she helps us accomplish during her two years as a Shark.”
Jovana Bulatovic – Eastern Kentucky
As a sophomore in 2019 at Eastern Kentucky, Jovana played in all 30 of the Colonels’ matches and finished third on the team with 181 kills (1.8 per set) and second on the team with 58 blocks. In a COVID-shortened 2021 spring season, she once again finished third on the team in kills with 137 (2.6 per set) and had the second-best hitting percentage of .211. With several team injuries, Bulatovic did it all for the Colonels, playing outside, right side, and defense. She also plays for the EKU beach volleyball team.
“Jovana has a cannon for an arm and can play all over the court,” remarked Rosen. “Her head coach at EKU could not stop raving about the kind of teammate and leader she is, and how much she will add to our culture. Jovana is a point scorer and will be a huge help to our offense, but I also like that she can block at a high level too. With two years of eligibility left, Jovana will be able to make a big impact on our program.”
Jordan “JoJo” Chessar – Padua Franciscan HS
Chessar plays high school for one of the best programs in the country, ranking as high as number one in the MaxPreps 2020 poll. Her team finished state runner-up in 2019 and 2020, and Kate has been a huge impact player for them in the middle and right side. As a six-rotation right side her senior year, Jordan finished the season with 167 kills, 122 digs, a team best 39 aces, and 37 blocks. She was named Second Team All-District. Jordan also plays club volleyball for Cleveland Volleyball Company, and her team just finished 3rd in the country at USAV Junior Nationals.
“JoJo was our very first commit in this class, and we fell in love with her instantly at camp. She has an infectious, positive attitude and our team knew right away that she was exactly what we were looking for. On the court, JoJo can do it all. I’ve watched her play outside, middle, right side, and defensive specialist. She has a great arm and can attack in front and behind. She will simply do anything that she is asked to do, and I know she is going to add so much to our program on and off the court the next four years.”
Kate Mihacevich – Padua Franciscan HS
Mihacevich, a high school teammate of Chessar, also played for the back-to-back Ohio state runner-up and MaxPreps No. 1-nationally ranked, Padua Bears. Mihacevich played all the way around on the outside in her senior year and finished the 2020 season as a Second Team All-District member with 206 kills, 145 digs, 38 blocks and 37 aces. Along with Chessar, Mihacevich was named AVCA All-American Watch List. She also just finished her club volleyball career on one of the best teams in the country, qualifying and competing in the open division at USAV Junior Nationals.
“Kate has a fast arm, plays high, and can score from both pins,” described Rosen. “I love that she has been able to train at such a high level through high school and club. She has been playing with and against the best players in the country which will prepare her well for our conference. This past summer at our high school camp, she really impressed our coaching staff, and solidified our interest when, at match point in a tight championship match, she absolutely exploded a swing on the outside. She continues to improve her backrow skills and I think she has a very bright future in our program.”
Cambry Pope – Lake Nona HS
Pope played for the second-best high school team in the state of Florida, Lake Nona, who fell in the FHSAA 7A State Championship match in five sets. She finished with an incredible 22 kills and 26 digs for the match. On the season, Pope finished with 286 kills (3.5 per set), 199 digs, and 27 aces. Her club team, Oviedo Volleyball Academy, qualified for USAV nationals and finished 13th overall.
“The fact that we were able to pick up a player as good as Cambry this late in the recruiting process was remarkable,” admitted Rosen. “She has great size and length that will fit in so well in our conference. Cambry has a great arm and can use the entire court. From her visit, we could tell that this is where she was meant to be. She jumped right in to being a part of the team before we even offered by writing her goals on our whiteboard and instantly connecting with our team. She’s already a solid player, but I think Cambry has such a high ceiling. We look forward to watching her grow and make an impact the next four years.”
To stay up-to-date with the Sharks on the recruiting trail, follow them on Twitter @NSU_VBALL.