The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

Former Iowa volleyball player Amiya Jones thrives in first professional season

Jones helped Polkky Kuusamo win its third straight Finnish Volleyball League title.
Grace Kreber
Iowa middle hitter Amiya Jones celebrating a point during a volleyball game between Iowa and Purdue at Xtream Arena in Coralville, Iowa, on Sunday, Sept. 25, 2022. The Boilermakers defeated the Hawkeyes 3-1. Urquhart had ten kills during the match.

After eight months of adjusting to a new culture on and off the court, Amiya Jones is back in the United States.

Jones, a former Iowa volleyball player, just finished her first professional season with Polkky Kuusamo, a club team in Finland.

Leading the Finnish Volleyball League in hitting percentage, the Indianapolis native helped her new team capture its third straight championship. Jones never experienced an accomplishment of such magnitude during her time with the Hawkeyes, as the program hasn’t had a winning season since 2016.

Jones’ squad had to win 12 playoff games over one month to claim the title. The quarterfinals and semis are ‘best of five’, while the championship is ‘best of seven.’

“There’s just moments where I’ve been able to just dominate on the court,” Jones said. “In the last three games, I served the game-winning ace. So, it’s just stuff like that where I’m like, ‘Damn, this is so fun.’ It’s nice to be a part of a winning team and see everything that it took to be a winning team.”

Jones’ transition to Finland wasn’t easy, though. The seven-hour time difference was the first challenge she had to overcome.

“I had so much jet lag because, I mean, if you think about it when we’re practicing at 10 a.m. over here, it’s 3 a.m. at home,” Jones said. “So. it’s like every day I’m waking up, and I’m basically doing workouts at 3 a.m. It’s hard to get used to.”

Jones said it was even harder to catch up on sleep because of the constant sunlight in Finland in the summer. About a third of Finland lies below the Arctic Circle, so in the summer, the sun doesn’t go away for between two and four months, depending on how north you venture, according to Lapland’s visitor website.

Because of this time difference, Jones only spoke to her family every couple of weeks. She said her family had a hard time keeping up with the team’s results throughout the season because “it was super hard to access” the app needed for score updates.

The language barrier between Jones, her teammates, and her coaches posed an interesting dynamic but also a unique opportunity for the former Hawkeye to expand her dialect. Her coaches are Greek, and most of her teammates are from Finland besides the three American players Jones lived with.

Jones said she hopes to be “pretty conversational” in Finnish by the time she returns to the team in mid-August.

“Speaking English is hard … so we’re kind of like teaching everyone English in a way. And then they’re teaching us Finnish,” Jones said.

The hitter also had to learn how to meet her needs within the minimalist lifestyle that Finland promotes. You can’t buy products in bulk there, so Jones said she spent about 600 euros a month on groceries. And if the store didn’t have what she needed, ordering off Amazon Prime came with a hefty shipping cost and a two-week delivery time.

She added, however, that the quality of life is better in Finland than in the U.S.

“We have like five restaurants here, and four of them are pizza places. There’s like no other people of any other ethnic groups, so you don’t get Mexican food, you can’t get Asian food,” Jones said. “But the water here is so good. Oh my gosh. Like you can drink from any tap anywhere.”

Jones will rest for about a week in the U.S. and then get right back in the gym to prepare for her return to Finland. But in the meantime, Jones plans to spend lots of quality time with her mother and friends, travel to Las Vegas, and take a long-awaited bite of American fast food.

“Qdoba, Culver’s, Taco Bell, a dryer, my hair products — literally everything,” Jones said of what she’s excited about back home. “I can’t wait to be somewhere warm. I just cannot wait to go home.”

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About the Contributor
Kenna Roering
Kenna Roering, Sports Editor
Kenna Roering is The Daily Iowan's sports editor. She is a junior at the University of Iowa majoring in journalism with a minor in sports and recreation management. Kenna previously worked as a sports reporter for men's wrestling and volleyball and was the summer sports editor in 2023. This is her second year with the DI.