:: Blakewood leaves the Pack, joins the fire
Kelley Blakewood traded in her red and black for maroon and gold last spring.
A transfer student from N.C. State, Blakewood came to Elon so she could practice with the team and play in its spring season.
“The athletic community is so close,” Blakewood said. “My classes are challenging but I feel like I am actually learning.”
She fit in with the team instantly, roommate and teammate Natalie Moore said. It didn’t take Blakewood long to feel comfortable, either. Coach Mary Tendler recruited Blakewood in high school, so she was familiar with Elon already.
“Even though she has only been here a short amount of time, she has been great with recruits and is dedicated to the program,” Tendler said. “She is very unselfish. It’s not about her; it’s about the team.”
Blakewood, the libero, is the general on the court.
She analyzes the game; she watches videotape on her own and asks questions when she isn’t sure about something, Tendler said.
The volleyball libero is the defensive specialist of the team. The word “libero” means free-roaming.
As the defensive specialist, Blakewood spends most of the game passing, but she may hit the ball over her head. She must be behind the offensive line and can only hit balls below the net, including sets.
Because she plays the majority of the match, she must communicate and be confident for the rest of her team.
“She brings the intensity up with the way she plays when she is on the court,” Moore said. “She puts 100 percent into everything during the game.”
“She is a big reason to why we are doing so well this season.”
Blakewood hails from Gainesville, Fla. She has played club volleyball since age nine. Her club team, the Gainesville Juniors, qualified for the Junior Olympic National Volleyball championships for six consecutive years.
“It’s important to be aggressive,” Blakewood said. “The more vocal I am, the more successful our defense and ball control tends to be.”
At N.C. State, Blakewood played defensive specialist for most of her freshman year and outside hitter her sophomore year.
In her sophomore year, she played
91 games and recorded two double-doubles, against Clemson University and Florida State University.
Blakewood has already made an impact at Elon.
She has a .914 serving percentage and averages 4.25 digs a game. Her 429 total digs this season make up more than a quarter of the digs for the entire team.
“She is a very competitive player,” Tendler said. “She has played at a very high level and I knew she was the type of player I would want.
“She is very confident, and makes the rest of the people on the court feel comfortable.”
Blakewood said she is glad she transferred to Elon, and couldn’t imagine her life without volleyball.
“With everything else going on in my life, its nice to just go out and play for two hours and forget everything else for a while,” Blakewood said.
“When I made my decision in high school, I was still a junior. In the recruiting process, you get caught up in the volleyball, but its so much more than that. It’s so important for coaches to care about the team.”
Reporter: Krista Naposki - 11/07/07