Megan Kelly’s match-sealing block and final point in the Class 4A volleyball state third-place match against St. Charles North – a 25-19, 9-25, 25-23 victory – was fitting.
The “do-everything,” four-year varsity starter for Crystal Lake Central played at three positions throughout the regular season and playoffs. Middle blocker was where Kelly started four years ago.
Since then, she has moved all around the court and, as a senior, played three positions (setter, middle blocker, right-side hitter) in every match – proving instrumental and invaluable to the Tigers’ success this past year as one of four Class 4A teams playing on the last weekend.
Kelly finished first on the team with 121 blocks, second with 348 assists and fourth with 189 kills and 282 digs. The senior captain recorded six kills, 16 assists and seven digs in Central’s third-place win over St. Charles North, putting the exclamation point on a historic season with a solo block.
Coach Lisa Brunstrum said Kelly, who led Central with 328 points, was a selfless player who played for her teammates and not herself, a common theme of many Tigers players in 2017.
For her accomplishments, Kelly was chosen 2017 Northwest Herald Girls Volleyball Player of the Year by the sports staff with input from area coaches. Kelly is the first Tigers player to earn the honor since Carly Hayes in 2007. Woodstock North’s Brooke Amann and Huntley’s Taylor Jakubowski also were considered after standout sophomore seasons.
Kelly recently spoke with sports writer Alex Kantecki about her favorite senior memories, what position she always wanted to play, her dream job and more.
What’s your favorite thing about volleyball?
Kelly: My favorite part is the team aspect, especially at (Crystal Lake) Central. We had such a close-knit family, and it was basically my second family. We were so close together, and it was awesome. I loved that about it.
Do you have any rituals or superstitions before you play?
Kelly: Before every match, we read an ode.
What other sport(s) would you be good at?
Kelly: I used to play basketball, and the only reason I was somewhat good was because of how aggressive I was.
What’s your favorite pregame meal?
What is your most memorable moment playing volleyball?
Kelly: 100 percent, going downstate.
Is there a special significance to your uniform No. 42?
Kelly: We put all of our names and numbers on the scoreboard (at Central). When I came in my freshman year, my oldest sister (Sarah, a 2016 graduate) was a junior, and my twin sister, Emily, was obviously a freshman, too. We wanted our names all next to each other. Sarah was 43, and 44 was taken, I believe, so Emily and I took 41 and 42.
Which teammate inspires you?
Kelly: Kendall Lownds. She’s always very composed on the court, and she’d always be the one who would help me calm down when I needed it.
Which teammate makes you laugh the most?
Kelly: Madeline Timmerman. She was the only freshman starting on varsity, and she took it so well. She was always so fun to play with.
Who is your favorite professional athlete?
Kelly: (Blackhawks center) Jonathan Toews
If you could change one thing about your sport, what would it be?
Kelly: Probably the net calls that they have. I would change it back to just being the top tape instead of the entire net.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?
Kelly: Go out and play my game and just have fun with it.
What’s your favorite class in high school?
Kelly: AP biology
What is your favorite movie and TV show?
Kelly: My favorite movie is “Stand by Me,” and my favorite TV show is “Friends.”
What do you think is the strongest part of your game?
Kelly: My movement at the net. I don’t really remember ever giving up on a block when I was playing middle.
What’s a song on your iPod people would be surprised is there?
Kelly: I have a lot of heavy rock songs from like The Offspring and Metallica because that’s what my dad and I would always listen to when I was younger.
What was your favorite match this season?
Kelly: Sectional final against Prairie Ridge
If you could have dinner with three people from any time in history, who would they be?
Kelly: Michael Jackson, Elvis Presley and John F. Kennedy
Who had the biggest effect on you as an athlete?
Kelly: My former coach and (Sky High Volleyball) recruiting director Steve Bonnem. He’s always pushed me to be my best, and I think he’s the coach I’ve connected with the most.
What is your biggest pet peeve?
Kelly: When people chew with their mouths open.
What would be your dream job?
Kelly: Biomedical engineer
Who is your hero?
Kelly: My parents (John and Diane Kelly). I wouldn’t be where I am without them. They’re awesome.
Who is the best athlete in your family?
Kelly: I would say me and my twin sister (Emily) are about even.
What is your favorite position to play?
Kelly: I’ve always wanted to be a libero, but none of my coaches ever let me do that.
What’s something that people outside your family or team wouldn’t know about you?
Kelly: My team knows most things about me, to be honest. I was very open with them, so I don’t really have anything for that.
What will you remember most about Crystal Lake Central?
Kelly: My CLCVB family. They were my biggest impact in high school.