A little more than a year since committing to Valparaiso University, Bradley-Bourbonnais alumna Mallory Januski soon will be able to join her new volleyball squad.

The middle hitter went on a campus visit to Valpo in March 2019, when she absolutely fell in love with the Crusaders. It led her to officially commit to the small Division I program not too long after in April 2019.

“I started my recruiting process at the beginning of my sophomore year, and I started with a lot of smaller schools, and then I had a breakout weekend and started to get more attention,” Januski said. “And then as soon as I went on my visit to Valparaiso, I knew that’s where I wanted to be and end up, so it was an easy decision once I made it on campus.”

Januski felt an instant connection with the Crusaders coaching staff and players, which is why it just seemed like the right fit for the exercise science major.

“Valpo is definitely a smaller [NCAA] Division I school, which I like a lot,” Januski said. “They don’t treat their players like robots, and everybody is just like a big family.

“As soon as I met the team and coach, there was an immediate connection where there was no question I’d fit in there.”

Being that Januski was a three-year starter for Bradley-Bourbonnais, there’s no doubt she will look to have an immediate effect for the Crusaders next fall after being named a Daily Journal All-Area selection and the SouthWest Suburban Conference Red Division Player of the Year this year as a senior.

She led the Boilermakers by finishing this past season with 307 kills and 90 blocks and was named to All-Tournament Teams at Rich East and the Moldenhauer Classic.

“Mallory was definitely a dominant middle for us at BBCHS,” said Leigh Reiniche, Bradley-Bourbonnais volleyball coach. “She was our go-to girl and could definitely hit shots wherever we asked her to go. ... She did everything we asked her to do.”

Januski said she believes her strong work ethic and ability to embrace competition will be a huge strength as she prepares to take her game to the next level.

“I think one of my biggest strengths is that I really like to work hard,” Januski said. “I like to fight for a position on the court, so if there’s an opportunity for me, I’m going to work for it.”

Although Reiniche only got to coach Januski for her senior season, she still managed to see that work ethic on a daily basis.

“I think her hard work and dedication to the sport will help her succeed at the next level,” Reiniche said. “I’ve watched her from afar from coaching at a different school district, but being able to see her progress through BBCHS volleyball and knowing her dedication, not only with athletic performance training but volleyball itself, she has that mentality of working hard and wanting to get better in everything she does.”

Januski already has been doing the necessary dirty work in order to compete for a starting spot next fall.

“I’ve been going to the gym a lot, doing lifting like four to five times a week,” Januski said. “I also try to go to the football field and run sprints. And then whenever there’s an open gym, I just try to get some easy reps in and hit a lot to keep my arm in good shape.”

Reiniche and her program already begun to see the effects losing Januski. Since Januski graduated this past May, the Boilermakers volleyball squad has been missing its go-to girl for the first time in three years, which has been evident as summer workouts have become a thing again during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Mallory is just a great overall human being,” Reiniche said. “She’s just a good student-athlete and leader. The girls have been in the gym recently, and I think the girls miss her as the go-to girl. If they want to talk to someone, Mallory was always there for her teammates.”

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