Story by Chet Piotrowski Jr.

Mattoon’s Jess Evans knew she wanted to play volleyball at the collegiate level.

But after playing months of it consecutively between school and the club, she became burnt out.

The plan was to go to Eastern Illinois University for four years.

“I felt like after the the school season I still wanted to play in college, but after club season I felt different,” she said. “ I felt like I was just ready to be done. But then after spending a month, a month and a half, of not playing, I realized how much I missed it.”

Then she received an email from Lake Land College to play.

“I think that little break was good because it made me realize how much I love the sport,” she said, “and how much I wanted to continue playing.”

She said after her club season was over, she just wanted it all to be done.

Her former school coach, Mattoon’s Kayla Quick, said Evans can put the ball where needed.

“Jess was one of our most powerful hitters last season,” Quick said. “She can turn the ball in any direction and is able to find success despite a great block put up against her. I have no doubt that she will do great things with the Lakeland volleyball team next year.”

Evans finished her senior campaign with 33 aces, 158 kills, nine blocks and 211 digs.

“I’m reliable on both the front and back row which allows me to contribute on both defense and offense,” she said.

She said her friends and family are excited for her to continue playing volleyball, as is her mom, Cindy.

“Mom is thrilled,” Cindy said, laughing. “Once I told her she could tell people, she was over there telling the parents and texting everybody.”