Camaraderie is vital in the sport of volleyball and vital for Osage senior Kenzie King.
A four-year starter for the Indians, King played a vital role in helping the program go from five wins as a freshman in 2014 to a school record 22 wins this season and had plenty of fun with her teammates in the process. The senior found some of that camaraderie at Hannibal-LaGrange University and signed her letter of intent to play volleyball for the Trojans on November 14.
“I am excited to be closer with a different group of people. I love my friends now, but it is going to be fun to go and play with a whole different team and see what they have to offer,” King said of the NAIA school. “When I went and played with them (Hannibal-LaGrange) for a weekend, it was really fun and we clicked no problem.
“The coach (Kyle Smith) is also pretty awesome. He is just really nice and patient and all the girls get along with him really well,” King added.
Another individual who was excited to see the senior put her name on the dotted line was Osage coach Travis Squire. The coach said he has seen King grow a lot from her playing days in middle school and the past three years as the head coach and noted that she was as deserving as any.
“Since she has been a freshman, Kenzie has been a kind of kid that wants to play year round. She would come in and play in our Sunday leagues recreationally, but she has an appetite for the game and really loves volleyball,” he stated. “She is going to want to work at it.”
King certainly did not forget all of her time in the gym.
“A lot of practice,” the senior said of what it took to become a collegiate volleyball player. “It is crazy to think how many hours I spent in the gym practicing and working with my team. It all paid off.”
Squire said King also has plenty of promise beyond her work ethic and the ability to offer even more than her accomplishments with the Indians.
“I think as a competitor and an athlete, she still has a lot of growing to do. We graduate them away, but Kenzie is the type of kid that is not maxed out yet,” he noted. “She has a lot of fuel left in her tank and she has a lot of learning to do for volleyball. Going off into the college level, she is going to have to step up her game. She did a great job for us, but they are going to expect more from her and I now she has that potential.”
One thing Squire said he will certainly miss is King’s ability to get vertical above the net and record some blocks.
“Even as a sophomore when we moved her to middle (blocker), she was a great blocker. She had the highest reach and highest jump on our team and that will not be easily replaced, but we are going to try,” the coach remarked.
King spent a lot of time at middle blocker for Osage because that is where she was needed, but Squire is hoping the Trojans can utilize her even more effectively. Overall, he is excited to see what she can do.
“I hope that when she goes off and plays at Hannibal, that she is going to be able to play a position that better suits her. I’ve used Kenzie as a middle blocker for three years and I think she’ll be playing a right side or outside (hitter) and I think that will suit her better,” he said. “Just to see her be able to go off to college and play at a different position and grow in that, I can’t wait to hear how it goes and see some of her games too, so I am excited.”
King will soon be on the court as a Trojan, but she will certainly not forget her time at Osage and everything that was accomplished.
“I played with my best friends so it is going to be hard trying to get close with everyone like I am close with some of my friends now, but it was an awesome time playing with them and I am going to miss it.”
While her time at Osage may soon come to an end, Squire said King moving on to the next level can have huge implications on the program going forward.
“I have several other athletes that are considering or aspiring to play at the next level. For them so see that it is not a Division I school but an opportunity to play at the next level, I think a lot of kids will take note of that and set that goal to play collegiately earlier,” he said. “I don’t think Kenzie entertained the idea last year. It did occur to her this year and some of these girls that are freshmen or sophomores that see that, maybe they’ll set that goal earlier, dig in and work hard from an earlier point. That will be great for our program and it will be great for the girls too.”
King intends to major in elementary education at Hannibal-LaGrange.