This season is a special one for the McPherson College volleyball team as they focus on the NAIA tournament in Sioux Falls, Iowa this week. Who helped get them there is their top senior Lexi Kite.
However, it was at one point earlier in her career that Kite considered quitting volleyball for good after the Bulldogs went 7-25 (2-18 in KCAC) in the 2015 season. Kite was a freshman at the time. It took plenty of convincing for the Colorado native to continue playing volleyball, yet she considered her options elsewhere.
"After my first year, I didn't want to play volleyball at all," Kite said. "My dad kept pushing me to play, so I looked at other schools in the KCAC, and then I found out they found a new coach, and I told myself to wait until I meet her."
That new head coach was Jessica Cleveland. Cleveland took over for the Bulldogs in 2016. One of her top priorities was to convince Kite to stay, and trust in her process.
"I think I talked to her on the phone, and that was the first time when I was like you know what, I needed to stay," Kite said.
Three seasons later, the Bulldogs are on the top of their game at 33-2, with Kite leading the way. The senior is a walking double-double as she averages 12.3 kills and 15.5 digs a game. She was named KCAC Player of the Year and First-Team All-KCAC earlier this month. Cleveland was named coach of the year as well. Her fellow teammate, Jamie Siess, successful in her right was KCAC's Libero of the Year, and also named first-team all-conference.
Kite is full of confidence in her Bulldogs with the season that they are having. When asked if she thought McPherson would qualify for nationals this season, she responded with "I would've believed them, honestly. I have no doubt in our team this year, but we have a lot of depth, and we have a lot of mentally strong players, so there's no reason we shouldn't be where we're at right now.
"We don't have super tall girls, but they worked their butts off to get a touch in the block and our defense works their butts off to get balls off as many as they could," Kite said. It don't have to be perfect, but we get a lot of balls off for sure.
The Bulldogs will now focus on the NAIA tournament, which will begin on Nov.27 at the Tyson Events Center.
Contact Peter Holland Jr. by email at email@example.com or follow him on Twitter @Petes_Picks_orour sports page @MacCountySports