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CdM's Kipp has turned volleyball into her love story
NEWPORT BEACH – Volleyball was a way of life for the Kipp sisters.
Kasey Kipp graduated from Corona del Mar in 2006 after leading the Sea Kings to a pair of Pacific Coast League titles and a CIF-SS finals appearance. Conley, who graduated in 2009, was also a key contributor for the Sea Kings.
Both sisters went on to play in college – Conley at Washington State and Hope International, and Kasey at UC Santa Barbara.
Their youngest sister, Kendall, had different feelings about the sport.
“I didn’t really want to play,” Kendall said. “Everybody was like, you should play volleyball, and I was like, no, I’m never playing.
“I think it was because I was always dragged to their games and it never seemed fun.”
Kendall, now a sophomore at Corona del Mar, started out competing in swimming and soccer, until she finally made the switch to volleyball in seventh grade.
“I don’t why, all of sudden, a huge interest sparked for me,” she said. “I love it now.”
Kipp still remembers the strong emotions she had before her first volleyball match.
“I remember my first scrimmage, and I remember stepping on the court and I was like, ‘Oh my gosh, this is really my first volleyball game,’” she said. “It made me so happy. From there, I literally loved volleyball so much, and it is something I wanted to spend all my time doing.”
She joined the club scene, starting with the Prime Volleyball Club, moving to Momentous Volleyball Club, and she now plays at Laguna Volleyball Club.
Last year, as a freshman, she played a pivotal role for the Sea Kings on their way to winning the Pacific Coast League title and reaching the CIF-SS Division 1AA quarterfinals.
CdM coach Steve Astor is familiar with the Kipps on the court, having coached against Conley and Kasey while he was an assistant at Laguna Beach, starting in 2006.
“Kendall is a combination of the two, in a sense,” Astor said, “where she has the height and the power, and I think she’s a better athlete than the both of them. They were good athletes, they both played at the Division I level.
“I remember watching her as a seventh-grader once. It was a Bambi on Ice type of thing. She was just a tall girl that hadn’t got control of her body yet, so seeing her from a seventh-grade kid to the end of her freshman year, was a pretty big jump.
“She came in as a freshman. She had some skill, but would get lost at times, but by the end of the year, she was a game-changer.”
Kendall grew up quickly last year while playing with a strong senior group led by Jessie Harris, Natalia Bruening and Payton Carter, three of the top players in the county.
This year, Kipp is taking on a larger role, moving to the outside from her usual middle blocker position. She is also one of the team’s captains.
“She’s learning how to be a leader in her own way,” Astor said. “We don’t need her to be the vocal leader yet.”
Kipp displayed her leadership qualities earlier this month in the Dave Mohs Championships. Instead of resting after she returned from Puerto Rico, where she had played in the NORCECA Women’s U18 Championship, she immediately returned to school and played with the Sea Kings in both days of the tournament.
“I was excited to play again,” she said of returning to CdM.
She helped the U.S. win the silver medal at the U18 tournament, which earned the U.S. a berth in the 2017 FIVB Women’s U18 World Championship.
Her goal is to be on that team, too.
“It was cool to realize that we were representing USA and we have a silver medal, and it was a huge honor to be there,” Kipp said. “Any time I was not playing my best or feeling down and not confident, I just had to think that anybody would love to have been in this spot and I need to make my team proud.”
The Sea Kings will likely be a different team by the time the CIF-SS playoffs arrive in early November. Astor said he expects the team to improve as it gains experience with several new players in new roles, including Kipp at outside hitter.
Kipp said she hopes to make the most of her summer experiences.
“You have to focus in and set a different goal for each practice,” she said. “That’s what I try to do, which is actually what one of the national team players (Alisha Glass) was telling us. Set a goal every practice, every game, something to work on so you’re not wasting reps in practice.”
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