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The University Star

The Student News Site of Texas State University

The University Star

The Student News Site of Texas State University

The University Star

Volleyball transfers acclimate to new home at Texas State

Carly Earnest
Texas State graduate student outsider hitter K.J. Johnson (17) warms up pre-game against North Texas, Thursday, Aug. 31, 2023 at Strahan Arena.

With the introduction of the transfer portal in 2018, athletes changing colleges has become more prominent.

 Texas State senior outside hitter Sophie Childs and graduate outside hitter K.J. Johnson, two of the seven new additions to the Texas State volleyball team, said their experiences adjusting to a new system have been unique. 

“It was definitely a lot easier with it being my third time [transferring],” Johnson said. “I’m just trying to do my best to lead by example. Just working hard, no reps off and all-out effort in everything we do.”

Johnson said she garnered her experience playing in key games for both Baylor and Fairfield University over her collegiate career and now bridges that knowledge to the Texas State roster.

One of Johnson’s deciding factors in becoming a Bobcat was her desire to play closer to home. She said having her family attend games in her final season tremendously boosts her performance on the court.

“My dad is the loudest person I know, so it’s been fun getting to hear him in the crowd again and knowing that they’re always my biggest supporters,” Johnson said.

Childs, who transferred to Texas State after three years at Wichita State, said her mindset is focused on adjusting to her new team while adopting a championship mentality.

“I think that this team knows how to win, and they’ve known how to win for a really long time,” Childs said. “That’s something that’s kind of new for me to step into, is a championship culture.”

These transfers have made immediate impacts on the court. After Childs’ and Johnson’s first 11 games, they are two of the top three kill leaders with 59 and 178, respectively.

Childs’ decision to play for Texas State began with her first visit, where the coaching staff welcomed her with open arms.

“When I was talking with the coaching staff on my visit here, I just saw the school, and I fell in love with it,” Childs said. “I picked them because they wanted me here, and that was evident, but I think it started with a love for the school.” 

Junior defensive specialist Jacqueline Lee is in her third year as a Bobcat and holds valuable experience she gained from playing with Texas State’s recent greats Janell Fitzgerald and Emily DeWalt. 

Lee said she hopes to combine her skills alongside the new Bobcat transfers.

“It’s cool because these are all completely different people getting different perspectives and playstyles,” Lee said. “It’s fun for me because my style works and meshes really well with this team. I’m excited for the rest of the season.”

Lee said she could tell early on that Childs and Johnson began adapting to the new system before the season started.

“It was pretty natural,” Lee said. “Sophie and K.J. already kind of know what they’re doing and come from a place where they want to be competitive, and they want to have that winning culture.”

This season’s new-look squad has opened the eyes of many doubters. After the team lost Fitzgerald and DeWalt over the summer, the question remained if the Bobcats could continue to compete in the Sun Belt Conference, an amusing notion, according to Lee. 

“It’s always funny because every year there’s a different team,” Lee said. “You’re going to have a different core group of girls every four years, so that change is to be expected.”

Despite others’ uncertainty, Lee remains embedded in her loyalty to the winning culture that Texas State volleyball has built and hopes to pass that mindset on to her teammates.

 “I say bring the low expectations,” Lee said. “We beat teams that come in with low expectations for us, so I’ll just say bring it on. We’re working in the gym, and we know what we’re doing and what we can bring to the table.” 

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