HOUGHTON - While height in no way guarantees volleyball success, Sylvie Rokosh's 6-foot-2 stature is certainly a helpful addition to Michigan Tech's relatively short lineup.
It's still unclear what Rokosh's exact role will be, but the freshman middle blocker from Calgary, Alberta, is expected to contribute immediately.
"Size and strength is something we desperately need," first-year Tech head coach Matt Jennings said. "She's going to be a big piece in the middle for us."
Freshman 6-foot-2 middle blocker Sylvie Rokosh passes a volleyball during a drill at the SDC Gym earlier this fall. Rokosh will add much-needed height to the Michigan Tech Huskies roster. (DMG photo by Stephen Anderson)
And that's exactly what Rokosh has always been since she started playing volleyball competitively in seventh grade.
"Big kid in the middle. That's how it goes," said Rokosh, who was initially interested in basketball until her sister Emma got her into volleyball.
"I played basketball since I was 6, then my sister introduced me and I fell in love with volleyball," Rokosh said.
The height helped, and so did the athletic genes she got from her parents, who were Olympic rowers for Canada.
Despite starting in volleyball in seventh grade, her skill was evident early in her high school career.
Rokosh was a three-year starter at Western Canada High School where she helped the Redmen earn two city of Calgary championships and a silver and bronze medal at the provincial 4A championships. She also played for the Canada West Volleyball Club, earning a silver medal at the Alberta Championships and a fourth place finish at the national championships.
In terms of recruiting her, Michigan Tech had two distinct advantages from the start.
"I set the goal at the start: an engineering school. There was no doubt about that," said Rokosh, who will go into biomedical engineering.
She also said an uncle had been telling her about Tech since she was 12 years old, which helped put the Huskies on her radar. She got on previous head coach Orlando Gonzalez's radar a couple years ago, and committed to Tech in March 2011.
"To the past coaching staff's credit, they did a good job of finding this one," Jennings said.
Rokosh had debated between the Colorado School of Mines and Tech, but the reason she settled on Tech: "Honestly, the people," she said. "It was just so much more welcoming here. It's just a really pleasant environment."
She's enjoyed the competitive environment as well and feels this will be a good year for the Huskies.
"The team is awesome," said Rokosh, whose non-volleyball hobbies include other sports and reading. "Everyone gets along, everyone works hard. I think this year will actually go well."
Tech kicks off the regular season this Friday in Pennsylvania, and Rokosh's role is yet to be determined, but with only one other Husky taller than 6 feet (fellow freshman Janelle Rupkalvis at exactly 6 feet), her height will be a factor in Tech's blocking and hitting game.
"It's going to be up to her and her ability to adapt to the college game but she's got the tools physically and mentally," Jennings said. "We have a couple undersized middles as well and they bring a different style of play, but (Rokosh) will be our bruiser, the one who can get up there and attack with authority."