Furda to continue her career at Fairmont State

WINTERSVILLE – Jessica Furda is a gym rat.

“I remember that my mom always tells me this story that she was doing volleyball rolls when she was pregnant with me,” said Furda. “She was coaching and her girls weren’t rolling right and she said ‘I’m just going to show you.’

“I have been in the gym, especially with my sister, really, since I was born. I think I started club on 10-and-under, so I’ve been at this since I was 9. I’ve been setting since I was 9.

“I’ve been around volleyball way too long.”

Furda is Indian Creek’s senior setter and her final year in the red-and-gold is winding down with sectional tournament play beginning tonight for the Redskins.

Older sibling Christina is a member of the Edinboro volleyball squad. She began her career at Division I Akron.

“I think that is what helps me a lot, because I have been able to watch a Division I volleyball player for two years,” said Jessica. “I was able to watch them and pick up things and that has helped a lot.

“Plus, Christina has been a big help to me. I can talk to her about it because she understands. And, that’s been nice. My mom played, but that was a different age of volleyball.”

Obviously, no sibling rivalry on the court.

“None. Absolutely not,” said Jessica.

“I always say that she was way better than me and she says that I am better than her. In high school we played the same position. But, in club, she played libero. We played different positions and that has helped a lot.

“We get compared all the time, which is hard.

“She’s been through every single thing I’m going through right now. I talk to her all the time. Even though she’s not living with me, it’s basically like she is – especially with volleyball, she helps me a lot.”

Although they both played setter for coach Crystal Hammack at Indian Creek, they played the position differently.

“Christina was more of a defensive player for us,” said Hammack. “Jess is more of a setter. Her main focus is setting the ball. Jess does a lot of stuff that people don’t see. She sees out of the corner of her eye where the middle blockers are going. She tells everyone where the setter is. She runs the floor.

“She’s going to be tough to replace. Jess is our energy. She’s our intensity. She keeps everybody going. She sets the pace for us and has been for four years.”

Furda understands how much she has grown in the sport since her freshman debut.

“I think our first game when I was a freshman was against Martins Ferry and I was so nervous,” she said. “My hands were shaking and I remember that one of our seniors, Megan Beebe, who played middle, she was trying to calm me down the whole time. High school volleyball is such a faster pace than eighth-grade volleyball. It was really, really overwhelming.

“The fact that I played club helped me a lot in getting ready for high school volleyball. My seniors were great that year. Even during the summer, you are this little freshman and when you go in as a setter, you have to play all the way around. All my teammates that year helped me a lot.”

She does remember that all that anxiety went away early in her freshman season.

“Our biggest rivals are Edison and Big Red and no matter what our level of play is or their level of play is, everyone always plays better when we play each other. That’s how it always is.

“We played at Big Red my freshman year and that was our first really tough game. I remember letting loose that game and didn’t even think about anything other than playing volleyball. I was so comfortable with everyone. Right then, I knew everything was going to be OK. It was like the third or fourth game of the season, so it wasn’t that far in.

“It was such an intense game that I could just play. That’s when I’m at my best, when I’m talking and just playing.”

Furda verbally committed before the season to play collegiate volleyball at Fairmont State.

“I’m so excited,” she said. “I committed the week before the first day of school and that was really nice. I tried to commit as early as possible because the whole process is so stressful. My junior year was awful. It seemed like I was stressed out over the recruiting process almost every day.

“I wanted to go into my senior season not worrying about where I was going to college. I didn’t want to worry about coaches watching me. I wanted to play my senior year and have fun and have no stress.

“Every person I met at Fairmont was so nice to me. I did not meet a single person who was not nice to me. I felt right at home. I’m so attached to my sister and my mom – I’m such a homebody – I wanted to go somewhere that I wouldn’t get as homesick because it is still close to home.

“The coaches treated me like I was their player already. The girls on the team are so nice. I just felt like they way they run their offense and their tempo, I felt that it was the best fit for me.

“I was looking at a couple of other schools and the way they run things, the way they play, I think that Fairmont’s offense and defense benefits me the best.”

Furda and her teammates captured the Class 5A OVAC title Saturday at Big Red.

“We’ve come so close to winning the thing,” she said. “We had come so close in the past. It feels like a weight has been lifted off my shoulders. We had been talking about OVACs since June. Every day when we’re running sprints in practice, we were talking about ‘We’ll win OVACs if we do these.’

“There was so much anticipation coming into OVACs. Monday morning in school (last week), in AP calc, me and Whitney (Martin) were talking about Saturday’s game. That’s all Crystal was preparing us for and we’re happy to get coach Hammack her first OVAC win. She’s been great.

“I am just thankful for everything. I think I am the way I am is because I’ve been around volleyball for so long.

“My family has been so supportive of me. They’ve been great.”