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All things
Spunky libero sets the tone for Calvin volleyball
By Lynn Rosendale

Kelsey SearsIn Kelsey Sears’ first year in the Calvin volleyball program, the team went 34-2. “I remember thinking, ‘Wow, I walked into a great thing here,’” she said.

Fortunately, for Sears and the rest of the Knights, it didn’t end there. The volleyball team continued their winning ways posting a 118-19 record over Sears’ entire four-year career. “Looking back it’s been an incredible four years,” said Sears. “I didn’t choose Calvin primarily because of the volleyball program. I chose Calvin because of the degree I was after; but I’m really glad in the end I chose both.”

The Knights were just as glad that the feisty defender chose Calvin. “She really is what makes us tick,” said Coach Amber Warners, during the season. “She’s a real leader from the back row; her passes keep our offense running. She goes after everything.”

A two-time All-MIAA first team selection, Sears said playing defense became her specialty at Calvin.

"I was an outside hitter in high school, but I’m only 5-7 on a good day,” she said. “I can’t compete [in the front row] with the 6-feet girls here.”

She did compete in her own way, though, digging up almost everything that came her way. With 248 digs on the season, Sears tallied more than 4.5 digs per set.

Kelsey Sears playingThe scrappy libero helped lead the team to two MIAA conference titles and four national tournament berths. “She’s a competitor,” said Warners. “If I had to pick one person to be down in the trenches with, I would pick her.”

Beating Hope in a thrilling four-set upset to win the MIAA tournament and an automatic bid to the national tournament was definitely a season high spot. But the Knights’ season ended just as abruptly with a 3-set loss to Hope just two matches into the national tournament. Still the season and ultimately her career came down to a lot more than just wins and losses, she said.

For her career highlight, Sears has just two words: “the team.”

“I don’t think I could ever have imagined a better group of girls,” she said. “People are always telling us, ‘You look like you have so much fun together.’
And we do.

“But it’s more than just volleyball to us,” she said. “We’ve grown in our spiritual lives and our social lives together. It’s the most solid group of people to have been around for the past four years. We love God, and we love to play volleyball.”

The Traverse City, Mich., native chose Calvin first and foremost because of the education program, she said. “I love math,” she said. “Right now I’m student teaching in algebra I. I love that kind of stuff.”

Sears plans to teach upon her graduation this spring and hopefully coach volleyball at some point, too.

For both her volleyball career and educational pursuits, Sears knows that Calvin was the right choice for her. “Calvin impacted me,” she said. “If you’re looking to develop more than just volleyball skills, this is the place to be. I know that I wouldn’t be the person I am if I hadn’t come to Calvin.”