Sports Track & Field Volleyball

Dual sportsmanship: UH Volleyball star reaches new heights on track team

Morgan Janda has decided to make the most of her final semester at UH, becoming the school’s first dual-sport athlete in 10 years. | Courtesy of UH Athletics

When graduate volleyball star Morgan Janda transferred to Houston in 2022, she was ready to give up her career as a high jumper. Janda was previously a dual-sport athlete at Sam Houston State University in volleyball and track. In 2022, Morgan made the move to Houston, anticipating two final years of play exclusively on the court with jumping out of the picture.

That is, until a chance encounter with UH director of track and field Will Blackburn made her Houston’s first dual-sport athlete since football and basketball player Tyus Bowser in 2013-14.

“I took the year off from track when I first got here,” Janda said. “I was in my academic advisor’s office and Coach Blackburn was like, ‘You didn’t want to jump at UH?’ It kind of fell into my lap I guess.”

Janda began working with jumps coach Drew Fucci on getting her ready for the season, finding a smooth transition from volleyball to jumping.

“In volleyball as a setter, it’s quick lateral movement. When I’m doing high jump, it’s as high as you can,” Morgan said. “Our coaches have said volleyball players are often good high jumpers because the approach is the same, and it comes easy.” 

Coach Fucci praised Janda when talking about her skills as a jumper, highlighting her poise and experience from years competing at a high level.

“When you go from a team sport like volleyball to high jump, it’s just you.” Fucci said, “Coaching Morgan has been rewarding. She’s experienced, she’s not a freshman. The biggest takeaway is her patience, and she is an incredible athlete.”

Beyond Janda’s high-level athleticism, her character is a constant trait that stands out to her UH teammates and coaching staff. Houston graduate student and volleyball star Kate Georgiades attested to Janda’s overall mentality as a teammate and friend. Kate is also Morgan’s roommate, and both have had similar paths, contributing to their friendship and rapport. Georgiades transferred from TCU to UH in 2021, and Janda came to Houston in 2022 from Sam Houston. 

“We both related to each other,” Georgiades said. “At our previous schools we both kind of lost our love for volleyball, and coming to UH we found the love again.” 

Janda’s love of the court has directly impacted her transition back to the track, in her final collegiate athletic opportunity. The graduate student credits UH head volleyball coach David Rehr and Fucci for their impact on her success.

“Coach Rehr took me in and developed me as an athlete. I thought I reached my potential when I was at Sam Houston.” Janda said. He really cares about the person more than the athlete. He wants to make sure that you know that he’s there for you all the time … (Fucci’s) very patient with the transition. He knows what he’s talking about and he’s helped me out a lot. I couldn’t ask for a better coach to accept me in my last semester.”

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