The first domino of the recruiting class has fallen for Tim Louks and the McMaster women’s volleyball program, and it comes at an area of need in 2019.
McMaster announced the commitment of setter Nikolina Malic, a Windsor, Ont. product and former Team Ontario member, as the first confirmed addition to the Marauders for 2019 and beyond on Tuesday.
Louks sees a complete package in Malic: an exceptional student, a driven athlete and a setter with the tools to succeed in maroon and grey.
“I’m excited to announce our first piece of the puzzle for next season,” said Louks. “Nikolina is a lefty setter with good credentials. She immediately fulfills our first goal of making us better in the practice room, and has check marks across the board as both an athlete and a student.”
“The combination of great passion and determination for the game, and a great academic standing makes her a good fit for this institution, and I’m excited for the chance to work with another top-notch setter.”
A rangy passer at 5’11”, Malic plays her club volleyball at the Windsor-area Sky Volleyball club, and was a previously a member of the Team Ontario 16U program.
The newest Marauder was impressed by both the support system within the athletic department, and the academic environment at McMaster, which helped sway her in favour of a varsity career in Hamilton.
Specifics in her field of study are still to be determined, as Malic is weighing applications to the faculties of Science and Engineering.
“From the moment I stepped into the David Braley Athletic Centre, I was introduced to the whole system of people who were there as a support system for the student-athletes,” said Malic. “The resources and help that is given makes the entire experience very personalized, so I have the opportunity not only to play for a top volleyball program in the province, but grow and develop with the help of everyone from coaches to strength trainers and athletic therapists.”
“McMaster was my first choice when it came to academics. Not only does the school have a great reputation, but the research and project-based opportunities that students are presented with, and which challenge them to make a difference, really drew me in.”
The setting position is a natural one for Louks to add to ahead of the 2019 season, as his team projects to boast just one returning setter when multi-tool Katie Zutautas, who has set and featured as a defensive specialist, graduates in the summer.
What does Malic bring to the spot, to both complement and challenge incumbent Rebecca Maxwell? The Windsor native insisted that her greatest strength as a player is not physical but mental.
“I try to be dynamic in the way I play,” said Malic. “I think the mental game plays a big role, especially as a setter, and the aggressive mindset that I have in pursuing some more unlikely passes and making the other team question what I’m going to do helps separate me from other setters.”
Her immediate priority at McMaster is simply to become a part of the community and do what she can to build a positive culture within the Marauders team room. What follows from there, the setter is eager to find out.
“I want to become part of a tight-knit family that works hard to be the best it can because of its passion for the sport and its competitive nature,” said Malic. “Only time will tell what that means a year from now.”
Source: Fraser Caldwell