Times Sports Editor
The Northview volleyball program has become one of the most successful in the Wabash Valley, producing several collegiate volleyball players.
On Thursday afternoon, senior Kaylee Clark added her name to that list as she signed a letter-of-intent to play college volleyball at Vincennes University. She'll join Clay City senior Lynsey Higgins on the team along with Terre Haute South's Jessica Chichester and Owen Valley's Sydney Stines.
Having that local connection was important to Clark as she made her college choice.
"That was a big key, I'm actually rooming with one of my good friends, Lynsey Higgins from Clay City," Clark said. "I'm pretty excited about that."
Vincennes assistant coach, Mike Misner was on hand at Clark's signing and feels that she'll be a major component in the Crusaders' future success.
"We needed a defensive specialist/libero and this past season, that was our struggle," Misner said. "We feel that (Kaylee) fills that need. You can't have too many athletes on your team. We're definitely looking at her to play the back row at our level. With her passing and serving, when she came in for the workout, she was tremendous at passing and that's what we were wanting."
Clark is looking forward to playing at the next level and believes that her experience in playing both the front and back row in high school will benefit her playing in college.
"I'm hoping to be a libero for Vincennes. I know when I go there I'll be a DS (defensive specialist), but I'm hoping to take the libero spot," Clark said. "Then maybe after Vincennes, I can go on and play (at the Division I level)."
Northview head coach Scott McDonald coached Clark throughout her four years with the Knights, which included a sectional championship during the 2009 season. From the time she was a freshman Clark was a integral to Northview's success on the court.
"Kaylee did make an impact from the first day she walked into the gym. There are a tremendous amount of reasons why she was so valuable," McDonald said. "The two that stood out the most though would be her great leadership skills and her never give up attitude. She was a great role model for the other girls in that she always put the team's goals first. Kaylee wasn't big into counting the number of sets that she had or any other statistical category. The personality that she also brought to the floor was contagious team wide."
Clark piled up an impressive stat line during her senior year as she was second on the team with 222 kills along with 336 digs and 40 aces.
"The most impressive thing that Kaylee did was to be such a successful outside hitter and only 5'6," McDonald said. "Offensively, she had every shot in her repertoire, plus she had an uncanny ability to find the open spot on the court. Defensively, she was fearless against anyone.
"Kaylee is going to fit in extremely well at the collegiate level," McDonald added. "She is a great defensive player, as well as in serve-receive. Most importantly in going back to high school, is her ability to be leader. Vincennes is getting a player that can serve in numerous capacities that is a winner."
Misner agreed that Clark's versatility will serve her well in college as well as her defensive ability.
"Coming out of high school, I think she's tremendous at passing and serving, but at the college level, the serving gets better," Misner said. "The coaches zone serve a little more and that's something (Kaylee) will have to continue to work on. I think she's going to be a great player."
Clark, who played travel volleyball with Crossroads of America based in Terre Haute, is excited about what the future and what she's accomplished at the high school level as well.
"I think it'll be a lot of fun. I've traveled with COA, but it wasn't like a team like Vincennes. I'm pretty excited, it'll be different. Without playing club volleyball I don't think I would have made it this far. Winning sectional my junior year against Terre Haute North (was one of my best memories), we've been pretty successful"