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When the public address announcer at Indiana Tech volleyball games calls out each starter's name, position, and hometown, Kelsea Nova often takes a minute to think about how far she and her Bowsher High School teammate Jasmine Battle have come.
Battle is first in the roll call - "Jasmine Battle, a middle hitter from Toledo, Ohio!" exclaims the announcer - followed immediately by Nova - "Kelsea Nova, a defensive specialist from Toledo, Ohio!"
"It makes me feel really good because there are so many good volleyball players from all over the place, and Jasmine and I just happen to be the lucky ones to still be playing with each other," Nova said.
Battle and Nova have been key components in their sophomore year this season for Indiana Tech, an NAIA school in Fort Wayne.
After last Thursday's 3-0 victory over Michigan-Dearborn, the Warriors possessed a 29-5 overall record, including a 12-1 mark in the Wolverines-Hoosier Athletic Conference, and were ranked the 16th-best team in the nation.
"The team is doing really well this year," Battle said. "Last year we were ranked 12th in the nation and went undefeated in the conference, so we're trying to reign supreme again."
Battle and Nova have been playing together since Battle transferred to Bowsher before her sophomore year.
They also played for the same club team, Glass City Volleyball, in high school and have developed a nice rapport on the court over the years.
That connection has continued to blossom at Indiana Tech, where the pair have been starters since their freshman year.
Said Kirsta Solberg, Indiana Tech coach, "Last year it was a help, because we had 13 players [who] were new to the program.
"They've played together for a long time, so they always know where each other is at and know each other's personalities very well."
Battle is third on the team with 0.5 block per game and is fifth with 1.7 kills per set this season. Nova is third on the team with 2.3 digs per set.
"They've both brought a lot to the team," Solberg said. "Jasmine is an undersized middle blocker in our league at 5-foot-9, but she jumps well and is quick, which has helped her be successful with us.
"Kelsea is the type of athlete who is going to run through the wall for you, especially on defense. Her favorite plays are the types where she has to run into the bleachers or jump over a bench to get a ball. She's kind of fearless in that regard."
Solberg also welcomed another northwest Ohioan to the team this season: Kelsey Fitzpatrick, a Holland native and Notre Dame Academy graduate.
Fitzpatrick has seen part-time duty as a setter in her freshman year for the Warriors this season.
"It's even cooler because now we have three Toledo girls," Nova said.
"She was on a rival team from Jasmine and me in high school, so it's nice getting to play with her now. It's a lot of fun for all of us to be representing Toledo."
Contact Zach Silka at:firstname.lastname@example.org