Instead, the fire that emanated from Cruz helped fuel the Lady Purple Hurricanes volleyball team as it made a return to the state playoffs for a second straight year.
The Cartersville senior said that though she based her expectations on this season and not last, she did use the 2010 season as motivation.
"I came in with a positive mindset. What happened last year was last year and I just wanted to prove to myself that I could do it, which I feel like I did," said Cruz. "Honestly, just being [on] the bench helped a lot because I wanted to be out there. I wanted it really bad. I love the sport and just seeing the girls playing and me sitting half of the game motivated me to do better and practice harder."
The 5-foot-10 outside hitter recorded a 32 percent rate in service aces and had 62 percent of her serves earn points. For her efforts, Cruz is The Daily Tribune News All-County Player of the Year.
First-year Lady Canes coach Camille Spradley said Cruz entered the season with a drive to become better.
"Janezka came in with a strong purpose at the beginning of the season. After one conversation with her about her goals for herself, she really began stepping up her game with her main goal being to improve her strength serving. She definitely achieved that personal goal," Spradley said. "Janezka was a great leader for our team. She showed heart and dedication no matter what circumstances she was under and was a great role model for our younger players."
"Janezka was able to rally her team during times when we had lost our momentum and took her role as a leader very seriously. She always put her team first and worked hard to make her teammates become better volleyball players," the head coach added.
Spradley recalled an early season match at Cass where Cartersville was looking to bounce back after losing to its crosstown rival the week before. It was a bright moment for the budding player, she said.
"Janezka truly emerged as a player during one of our matches at Cass. The more pressure she is put under the better she is able to perform. Once she got fired up over a call, she began ripping out service aces one right after another," Spradley continued. "That match was a huge highlight for her this past season."
Cruz pointed to another moment from the season as her fondest of the season.
"The best memory though was how we won the Bartow County tournament. We went out there with so much passion and dedication; it was amazing," said the county tournament MVP.
Cruz, who was selected to the 7-AAA All-Area Tournament Team during the season, said her passionate style of play helped her throughout the season.
"I think without passion for the game, it doesn't do any good. Mixing passion with hard work just made it so much easier," she said.
Replacing Cruz will not be easy, though the Lady Canes will look to fill her void by developing some younger players.
"We are losing a powerful server and outside hitter as well as a team leader. Our main goal for the next season is to continue improvement in these areas with our younger players and to develop them to their full potential so that we can again have a successful season," Spradley said.
As for the departing Cartersville volleyball player, playing a more prominent role proved to be satisfying.
"I loved it," Cruz said. "I felt like I accomplished something I wanted to do and I proved to myself that I was the best I could be."