(West Plains) – Officials at Missouri State University-West Plains inducted former Grizzly Volleyball standout Luiza Jarocka into the Grizzly Sports Hall of Fame during the annual Grizzly Sports Banquet Tuesday night, April 8, at the West Plains Civic Center’s Magnolia Room.
An estimated 140 family members, friends, Grizzly Booster Club members, students, faculty and staff attended the event.
Jarocka, a 6-foot setter/outside attacker from Warsaw, Poland, came to the Grizzlies in 2005 and immediately made an impact on the team. She frequently stood among team statistical leaders during both of her seasons and, in 2006, became the anchor of one of the best teams in the program’s history. After starting 6-5, the 2006 team went on to win 35 of the next 37 matches, including a stretch of 23 consecutive victories; won six tournament titles during the regular season – the most by any team in program history; and finished the regular season as the No. 2 team in the nation. The Grizzlies capped it off with their eighth consecutive Region 16 title and a third place finish in the national tournament.
Jarocka earned many individual accolades that season, as well. She was named to several all tournament teams and received most valuable player honors at two; she was named the NJCAA’s Division I Player of the Week following her performance at the Miami-Dade Invitational Tournament in October; she earned first team All-Region 16 honors and all-tournament team honors at the NJCAA Division I Women’s National Volleyball Championships; she was named to the American Volleyball Coaches Association’s All-American team; and she received NJCAA first team All-American and Distinguished Academic All-American honors, becoming the first Grizzly athlete to receive both honors in the same season.
At the time of her departure, Jarocka was first in career attacking percentage (.337) for outside/right side hitters, fourth in career attacking percentage among all hitters (.338), fourth in career assists (2,205), fourth in single season assists (1,819 in 2006) and seventh in single season attacking percentage among all hitters (.405 in 2006). She remains first among outside/right side attackers in career attacking percentage and now places fifth in career attacking percentage among all hitters, career assists and single season assists and eighth in single season attacking percentage among all hitters.
Jarocka graduated from Missouri State-West Plains in May 2007 with an Associate of Arts in General Studies degree and transferred to the University of Missouri-Columbia where she played one season for the Tigers, helping them post a 17-13 record and reach the NCAA National Volleyball Tournament. She graduated from Mizzou in 2009 with two bachelor’s degrees and currently works in her hometown, Warsaw, as a manager for Citi Bank.
In accepting the award, Jarocka said West Plains had become a second home for her, and she thanked former Grizzly Volleyball Head Coach Trish Knight, current Head Coach Paula Wiedemann, Strength and Conditioning Coach Keri Elrod, her teammates, her host family Pat and Linda Keefe, and her many friends for their support and giving her wonderful memories. “It’s not the place, but the people who make the difference,” she said.
And to the current players attending the ceremony, Jarocka shared “it’s after you leave West Plains that you start to appreciate how much your time here means to you and the importance of the relationships you make while you are here.”
In closing, Jarocka said, “I am honored to be selected into the Grizzly Athletics Hall of Fame and thank everyone who helped me achieve this honor.”
This is the 12th year of the Grizzly Athletics Hall of Fame. Grizzly Hall of Fame Selection Committee members include Chairman Ron Shemwell, Russ Gant, Bill Hutchings, Chuck Kimberlin, Carolyn Smith, John Williams, Missouri State-West Plains Dean of Student Services Dr. Herb Lunday and, as ex officio members, Grizzly Basketball Head Coach Yancey Walker and Grizzly Volleyball Head Coach Paula Wiedemann.