Zarda Returns to the Sunflower State

Transferring to a new school, from the elementary level to college, is never easy. For the new Wildcat, Sheridan Zarda, the transfer to K-State thankfully had some familiar faces and places to it.

Start with former high school teammate and now current K-State teammate, Dallas Gardner. The two attended and played volleyball at St. James Academy in Lenexa, Kan.  Like Zarda, Gardner transferred to K-State after breaking in at the collegiate level with a different program. Gardner played her freshman season at Northwest Missouri State.

"It was kind of shock - both of us did not end up coming [to K-State] first," said Zarda. "I kept in touch with Dallas a little bit - how she was doing in her first year at K-State - and now we're both here. I think it is really cool, and it's nice to have a St. James friend on the team, too."

While at St. James, Zarda helped the school win four state titles as well as a Prep Volleyball national title in 2010. She was twice named all-state (2010, 2011) and selected as an Under Armour First Team All-American in her senior year in 2011. As should be expected, she was a top-five high school recruit in the state of Kansas, according to

Zarda elected to attend Nebraska out of high school - "Bigger school was a big thing for me...I went to a smaller high school" said Zarda - and she played in 19 matches for the Cornhuskers in her freshman season in 2012. The defensive specialist finished the year with 27 digs and three aces in 43 sets. In 2013, however, Zarda did not play due to redshirting. She was still named All-Academic Big Ten, not letting the season away from the on-the-court action affect her studies.

Zarda decided it was a time for a change, though. She chose to transfer to Kansas State and has been with the Wildcat volleyball team since January.

"So far, so good," said Zarda about her first three months in Manhattan. "Any transition is going to be hard, and this was a little hard at first. As soon as you get accompanied with the team, though, it makes you feel more at peace with everything. The team helped show me where my classes were and took me on a tour when I first got here. The girls are very family-oriented, just like K-State is."

Head coach Suzie Fritz and the rest of the K-State coaching staff were happy to welcome Zarda to the program.  Zarda's qualities and skill set are expected to fit in nicely with the team moving into the 2014 season.

"Sheridan has a vocal and competitive presence, as well as some natural leadership qualities," said Fritz. "Her ball-handling skills enhance our ability to manage first contact at a high level and extend rallies in a positive way."

Zarda joins transfer Brooke Sassin (Mississippi State) and early-arriving freshman Kylee Zumach as the three new Wildcats in the spring getting acclimated with the 11 returnees, a group that helped K-State post its third-straight winning season in 2013.

"Now that we are practicing together, it makes it easier for every age level to work together," said Zarda about adjusting to her new teammates in spring camp. "You can see that now; we are more of a team rather than different ages and different people."

For Zarda, transferring to a new school and new team became an even easier decision when she first spoke to Fritz.

"Suzie was pretty much why I chose to come here," said Zarda. "She is very affectionate, welcoming, and loving. She is the same way out on the court as she is off the court. She doesn't give any fluff; she tells it how it is. That is what I needed. I needed someone to tell me how it was and what I needed to do. I have really appreciated what she has done for me."

Zarda brings the familiarity of living in Kansas to the Wildcats as well. The Shawnee native was born and raised in the Sunflower State, and she played club volleyball for MAVS in Lenexa from ages of 12 to 18. Her father also attended college at both Kansas State and Kansas.

"We have always prioritized having the best players in Kansas playing at K-State from a recruiting perspective," said Fritz. "We had lengthy discussions with Sheridan coming out of high school about joining our team at that time, as she was a very highly respected player from a highly regarded club and high school situation.  Ultimately, we are glad to have her back home and think that she is a wonderful addition to our team in many ways. "

Although Zarda attended Nebraska for the first two years of her collegiate career, her new - but really familiar - surroundings are not hard to notice.

"I like being able to represent my own state," said Zarda. "I have lived in Kansas my entire life. Kansas has kind of been my rock. I've traveled everywhere, but Kansas is always going to be my home. K-State is now my home, too."