Rock Hill High grad and volleyball standout Karis Watson was recently named in the Eliteseria's 2017-18 team of the season? Yes, Watson is playing pro volleyball in Sweden -- you didn't know about the Eliteseria? -- and playing typically well. The Herald emailed her some questions about her career and life in Sweden. These are her responses:
▪ When the opportunity arose to play for Hylte-Halmstad Volley, I was nervous, however, I had been living in the United Kingdom for 8 months at the time, so I was accustomed to living abroad. I had the opportunity to visit the town and train with a few of my future teammates in May, so felt a little more at ease about moving there. Once I signed the contract I was excited for the new experience and the chance to get back on the court and compete.
▪ I think I was most surprised at the lack of snow in Halmstad. I assumed from what I had seen in movies that all areas of the country would be covered with snow at all times during the winter. We had a few snowfalls here but none that lasted more than two days. I was pleasantly surprised at the fact that most Swedes, not only speak English fluently, but are eager to speak English. The cycling culture here was also a nice surprise. Most people here, including myself, use bikes as their main form of transportation. There are bike lanes and bike racks everywhere so it is very easy to get around. Also, The tap water is the best I've ever had!
▪ I definitely did not see professional volleyball in my future because we didn't have an indoor volleyball league in the U.S and I didn't have any exposure to international volleyball in the media besides the Olympic Games. I had no idea there were opportunities to play competitively after college for those who were not skilled enough to make the national team roster. At Clemson I had a few teammates who went on to play professionally, so the thought entered my mind that I could do it too, but after my senior season I decided playing professionally wasn't for me.
▪ Playing in Sweden has been very beneficial in that I have been able to make money doing what I love, while experiencing a new culture and meeting people from various backgrounds. The volleyball club pays for all of our living expenses, transportation to and from matches, some meals, and medical bills, so the only thing I have to focus on is training hard and contributing on the court.
▪ Making the All-League or "Dream Team" had a lot to do with the fact that God blessed me with height and athleticism that many players in the Swedish league do not have. So that was highly advantageous. Tony Westman, my coach this season, helped me to elevate my game technically and made me an important part of the offense from the beginning. It is impossible for a middle blocker to be dominant offensively without good passers and a setter who can get them good balls. Fortunately, my team has some of the best passers and the best setter in the league, so they made me look really good.
▪ I actually have not been home since I left in July, but I imagine (the Swedish furniture store) Ikea will be a different experience for me after spending a year in Sweden.
▪ I plan to continue playing, but not in Sweden. My hope is to move up to a higher level. I am still weighing my options at the moment, but I'm hoping to sign with a new club some time in the next few months.
Indian Land 7, Lancaster 0
Top-ranked Indian Land bolted to a 5-0 lead at halftime and defeated Lancaster 7-0 in a non-region match at Indian Land Tuesday night.
Summer Bishop and Kiley Waterburg scored two goals each to lead Indian Land to the one-sided win. Brianna Bishop, Emily Gerdes, and Kelsey Long added one goal each to the Indian Land assault as they outshot Lancaster 32-1.
Summer Bishop had two assists and Brianna Bishop got one. Emma Thompson worked in the goal for Indian Land and recorded the shutout. She had one save.
Indian Land is 11-3-1 overall. Lancaster is 6-8.
Nation Ford loses and ties
Nation Ford played two matches at the Palmetto Cup tournament Tuesday in Columbia. Nation Ford lost to A. C. Flora 2-1, and tied Gray Collegiate 2-2. Nation Ford is 5-5-1 overall on the year.
Shelby 5, Clover 3
Shelby defeated Clover 5-3 in the opening round of the Shelby Invitational Tournament Monday night. Shelby scored four runs in the bottom of the fifth to erase a 3-1 Clover advantage. Shelby made the most of six hits in the game.
Fredy Lowe led Shelby with three hits. Seth Moore led Clover with one hit and one RBI. Karson Stewart added one hit to the Clover offensive attack. Clover is 5-11 overall on the year.
Jamestown 10, Lewisville 5
Jamestown (NY) defeated Lewisville 10-5 in the opening round of the Mingo Bay Tournament at Waccamaw High School Tuesday afternoon. Jamestown scored three runs in the third inning to erase a 4-3 Lewisville lead and go on from there for the victory.
Lewisville is 10-4 overall on the year.
Andrew Jackson 7, Lancaster 3
Andrew Jackson toppled Lancaster 7-3 in a non-region game at Lancaster Monday night. The Volunteers scored four runs in the third to take a 4-3 lead. They tacked on three insurance runs in the sixth inning.
Lancaster is 6-13 overall on the year.
Buford 6, Indian Land 3
Buford built a 4-0 lead after three innings and defeated Indian Land 6-3 in a non-region game at Indian Land Monday night.
Buford managed only seven hits, but they took advantage of three Indian Land errors to secure the win.
Nolan Bolt led Indian Land with two hits. Justin Cope and James Mulvaney added one hit and one RBI each, and Chase Dougherty got one hit. Indian Land is 11-4 on the year.
White Knoll 7, York 1
White Knoll defeated York 7-1 on the final day of play at the Bojangles Classic at Airport High School in Columbia. York is 8-8 overall on the year.
Lewisville splits a pair
Lewisville got a win and a loss on Tuesday afternoon as they defeated Parkland (NC) and lost to Tallwood (VA).
Lewisville got nine hits in getting a 10-0 win over Parkland. They broke the game open with an eight-run rally in the third inning.
Alexis Odom led Lewisville with two hits. Ivy McCall added one hit and drove in two runs, and Paige Williams had a home run and drove in the three runs. Chloe Thomas added one hit and drove in a pair of runs.
Amber Bass contributed a double and one RBI, and Lauren Crocker had one hit and knocked in a run. Abby Thomas and Codie Hornke also had hits for Lewisville.
Thomas pitched a no-hitter and struck out nine to get the win to improve to 13-2 on the year.
In the second game Lewisville outhit Tallwood 9-5, but made four errors and lost 5-3. The score was tied until Tallwood scored twice in the fifth for a 5-3 advantage.
Thomas led Lewisville with three hits, including a triple, and one RBI. Odom added two hits. Thomas was the losing pitcher. Lewisville is 17-3 overall on the year.
Berkeley 12, Fort Mill 2
Berkeley defeated Fort Mill 12-2 in the championship game of the Azalea Invitational Tournament Tuesday afternoon in Summerville.
Fort Mill is 15-4 overall on the year.
Win and a tie for Clover
Clover played a pair of matches in the Palmetto Cup tournament in Blythewood Tuesday afternoon.
Clover took a 1-0 lead at halftime, and then salvaged a 1-1 tie against Blythewood in the first match of the day. They toppled Lakeside (Ga.) 3-0 in the second match. Clover is 9-4-1 overall on the year
Indian Land 1, Buford 0
Brandon Sanchez scored the only goal of the game and Indian Land edged Buford 1-0 in a non-region match at Indian Land Monday night. Jordan Perry assisted on the winning goal. Buddy Flow was in the net for Indian Land and recorded the shutout. He had two saves.
Indian Land is 11-1 overall on the year.
Andrew Jackson 2, Lancaster 0
Andrew Jackson defeated Lancaster 2-0 in a non-region match at Andrew Jackson Monday night. Lancaster is 6-7 overall on the year.