Kelsey Grove… Killing It!

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By David Wagner

Bottom Row – Left to Right: Andrea Vial, Sienna Kellum, Hannah Miles, Erin Farina, Courtney Berry, Olivia Nichols. Second Row – Left to Right: Cassidy Wilson, Eleri Hayden, Colleen Forsman, Elissa Simpson, Kelsey Grove. Third Row – Left to Right: Hailey McDaniel, Makayla Shifflett, Adriana Bland. Top Row – Left to Right: Eric Warfel, Ron Pack, Mandy Snow, Ali Sandridge.
Bottom Row – Left to Right: Andrea Vial, Sienna Kellum, Hannah Miles, Erin Farina, Courtney Berry, Olivia Nichols. Second Row – Left to Right: Cassidy Wilson, Eleri Hayden, Colleen Forsman, Elissa Simpson, Kelsey Grove. Third Row – Left to Right: Hailey McDaniel, Makayla Shifflett, Adriana Bland. Top Row – Left to Right: Eric Warfel, Ron Pack, Mandy Snow, Ali Sandridge.

After all the success that Western Albemarle Volleyball has enjoyed over the last decade-plus, individually and as a team, many people may have thought the program had already peaked. Garnering countless individual awards, District championships, a Conference 29 Championship, regional playoff appearances, state playoff appearances and dominating local competition, the Warriors have set the bar high.

But in 2015, senior outside hitter Kelsey Grove once again proved that records were made to be broken. Grove set a new Western Albemarle single match kill record (not once, but twice) and quietly chased down the Warriors’ single season and career kill records in the process. Grove’s outstanding play and leadership were a bright spot for the Warriors, not only this year but throughout her four years at Western.

Kelsey Grove
Kelsey Grove

Grove made an immediate impact and was named the team MVP on the Junior Varsity squad her freshman year in 2012. Her talent and potential did not go unnoticed. Grove moved up to varsity her sophomore season and earned second team All-Jefferson District honors. In 2014 she stepped to the forefront. She was voted First Team All-Conference, First Team All-Jefferson District, second Team All-Region and Varsity Team MVP as a junior. Even with all the accolades, Grove was determined to get better, pushing herself and her teammates as the Warriors season ended much earlier than they would have liked in 2014. For Grove, team success has always been more important than individual achievement.

With three seasons of high school volleyball under her belt, Grove was excited for 2015 and her senior year. Putting in the hard work in the weight room (three winters and summers with the football team) and summer workouts with former Warrior and Maryland Terrapin standout Sarah Harper, Grove was poised for a breakout year. The expectations were there and she delivered.

Following a strong start, the Warriors suffered a couple of disappointing losses to district foes Powhatan and Albemarle. The Warriors later avenged those losses though, as Grove showed up big in both rematches, especially at Albemarle High School. The Warriors won a thrilling five-set match and Grove set a new WAHS single-match kill record, tallying 22. With their strong finish to the season the Warriors earned the top seed for the Conference 29 playoffs. Western faced Turner Ashby High School in the conference finals, a team they desperately wanted to beat. Once again Grove set another single match kills record for Western Albemarle with an amazing 24 kills that night, leading the Warriors to their first ever Conference 29 volleyball championship.

The records didn’t stop there. In 2015 Grove set a single season Western Albemarle kills record with 390, which in turn gave her the all-time career kills record with a staggering 731 kills in three seasons. Playing at such a high level earned her the team MVP award for the second straight year (she was also a team captain). Her coaches and teammates weren’t the only ones to acknowledge her abilities. Grove was named First Team All-Jefferson District, First Team All-Conference 29, First Team All-Region (3A West), Second Team All-State, Conference 29 Player of the Year and Jefferson District Player of the Year.

Grove excelled and amazed all season long. She led the team in kills practically every match and was consistently in the top for digs. Grove was undoubtedly the best all-around player since 2010 graduate Sarah Harper left the program, and she earned every bit of it. A fast learner and great student of the game, she improved every year. Her commitment and dedication were vital as well. All of the off-season workouts only strengthened her already exceptional athleticism (28” vertical leap) and gave her an unmatched mental toughness on the court. Along with the hard work and natural ability, Grove seemed to have that instinct and gamer attitude that you just can’t teach.

When asked about the most memorable moments of her career, the win at Albemarle in 2015 was at the top of her list (finally, we beat them) and the win over Turner Ashby in the Conference 29 finals was a close second.

Grove also mentioned giving gifts to all the players with team captain Courtney Berry and the team bonding nights (especially at the Berry family lake house). She was also excited and happy to have played volleyball all these years with her best friend Sienna Kellum. And the surprise of breaking all those team records that coach Ron Pack informed her of and getting to work out with Sarah Harper, who taught her so much, were bright spots too.

Grove thanks her teammates for all the fun and support, especially her senior teammates and her family as well. She also thanks all the coaches for their tremendous help, including Marti Pugh, Mandy Snow, Eric Warfel and most certainly Randy Scott, Ron Pack and WAHS football coach Ed Redmond

Grove would like to play volleyball in college, but as of now she has only a few Division 3 schools looking at her. She really wants to attend JMU in the fall. If she gets accepted at Madison she will try to walk on and hopefully earn a scholarship over the first two years. With her competitive nature and mental toughness, her goals are very attainable.

WAHS Volleyball
WAHS Volleyball

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