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Jimmies' Tomasz Swiderski preparing for GPAC tournament

Apr. 18—JAMESTOWN — If it is up to the University of Jamestown men's volleyball team and Tomasz Swiderski, the GPAC banner will be staying inside Harold Newman Arena.

The Jimmies open up their title defense at 7 p.m. on Friday, April 19, when they host Kansas Wesleyan University.

"Personally, I want to win the GPAC tournament, to bring the GPAC back home again," Swiderski said. "Also, I would really like to be in the GPAC All-American team but we'll see what happens."

Swiderski comes to the Jimmies from Kedizeryzn-Kozle, Poland, and is one of two Polish players on the roster alongside Sebastian Ignaczak. Swiderski said Ignaczak has helped him in his transition to the university and the United States.

"It's been really interesting to go into a new culture," Swiderski said. "But it's been fun. I knew some stuff because of my friend (Ignaczak) but it's a completely new country, new people, new way of learning. So, it's been nice, it's been really fun."

Jimmies head coach Travers Cox said he has seen Swiderski adjusting well to the transition.

Despite being new to this country, Swiderski said he learned English through playing video games with friends online.

"I watched some videos on YouTube, I watched some other stuff," Swiderski said. "I've been playing some games with other friends from other countries like from Malta, from Germany. So, I know a lot but my English improved coming here. So that's good."

Throughout the first 19 games of the season, Cox said he has seen Swiderski grow on the floor, but he said Swiderski still has a lot of untapped potential. In order to make a big impact in the conference tournament, Cox said he needs the freshman to stay the course.

"He's gonna be crucial," Cox said. "It's that right side, it's huge for us. He does a great job of blocking, he does a great job of putting balls away. That's why he's there, he does exceptional at it."

The Jimmies are going for their fourth consecutive GPAC title. This season, the Jimmies and Coyotes have played twice with the Jimmies sweeping both occasions. During those two games, the Jimmies outscored the Coyotes 150-98. While he said the Coyotes have made a few strategic choices, Swiderski said he and his teammates need to keep playing like they have this season.

"We just need to play the same as we did the last time because last time we gave them a really hard time winning 25-6 in the first set," Swiderski said. "So I feel like we are the ones that need to be really cautious. They're the ones who don't have anything to lose. We have the whole season to lose."

Throughout the entire tournament, Cox said he wants his entire team to play free, play hard and stay locked into the mission at hand. He also said he wants his team to notice the little things. In order to beat the Coyotes, Cox said his team needs to stick to the fundamentals.

"They made some adjustments to their lineup," Cox said. "They're much bigger than they were last year and they're playing really well. They've got a lot of confidence going in. So that's the challenge right there, they've got a lot of going into this tournament."

This season, Swiderski has 141 kills, 35 digs, four assists and five service aces.

"He's been crucial," Cox said. "He's played multiple positions. He's been outside and oppo. He really picked it up when the setters went down playing not only the deep ball and the opposite side of the court. So he's been vital, he's been huge."

Swiderski said he has done a good job of minimizing his errors this season. When he looks to the postseason, Swiderski said he wants to improve his ability to hit the deep ball, his defense and his serving.

While he has played in all 19 of the Jimmies games this season, Swiderski said the sport in the U.S. and the sport in Poland are completely different. He said the sport in his home country is more competitive than it is here.

"They have a real structure over there, a little more so," Cox said. "Their players are developed at a younger age and already set in motion as to where they're going. A lot of men's volleyball players here could be playing for two years, three years, four, where some guys in Poland have been playing for 10 years already. It makes a big difference."

During spring break, the Jimmies went to Poland, which allowed Swiderski and Ignaczak to be tour guides for their teammates.

"It's been really cool," Swiderski said. "Some people didn't like it at first but after going there, looking all around, they were like, 'It's pretty nice. It's really good.' Some of them said that they will definitely come back to Poland, so that's pretty cool."

This conference tournament sees all four teams in the semifinals playing at Harold Newman Arena, a change from last year when the higher seed hosted the semifinals at their two respective sites.