Grace with an Ace!

Grace Kelly committed to Stevens Institute of Technology

Grace Kelly digging up the volleyball to the setter. Photo courtesy of Lifetouch.

Grace Kelly digging up the volleyball to the setter. Photo courtesy of Lifetouch.

Late in the game, the score close, Grace Kelly is up to serve. She takes a deep breath and waits for the whistle. She starts slowly, approaching the service line, and tosses the ball into the air. She hits the ball over the net with high speed, gets an ace, and takes the lead!

Grace Kelly, a senior at Long Reach High School, has committed to Stevens Institute of Technology to play volleyball in college.

The Stevens Institute of Technology Women’s Volleyball team is 5-3 this season with head coach Annie McShea. Kelly made a good impression on the recruiter while playing in her club volleyball season. She started playing in sixth grade by participating in camps, and she eventually moved to playing club in eighth grade.

Kelly’s sister, Senior Ava Kelly, plans to continue to support her sister in college: “I will probably continue to watch her games in college depending where I land up, [and] offer my support from the sidelines.”

Grace Kelly is interested in adult leagues and coaching for life after college. “I would definitely be interested in coaching in the future, especially the younger ages… I feel like learning good skills at a young age is vital to playing volleyball well,” the committed athlete explains.

Younger ages may be ideal, but Kelly states that she would be willing to work with any age range. “I feel like a good coach at any age group is helpful, [even] though there are two different types of coaches at 18’s versus 12’s. I would be interested in doing any position.”

As far as any negative aspects to playing this sport all year, Kelly says, “the one thing is is that you have to learn how to balance school and volleyball and everything else.”

Ava Kelly explains both of their busy lives collide when they have to decide who gets the car. “Between my practice and races, and [Grace’s] practice and games, it’s always a juggling act…but it’s not too bad,” Kelly says.

Playing volleyball all year can be very busy. Kelly states, “I go to workouts for an hour before each of my practices, and some days I will have private lessons before my workouts.” Her club practices tend to be three-hour practices, three times a week.

High school volleyball has been a different experience for Kelly during her four years in comparison to club. She commented, “The past three years I have not been playing my own position. [This year] was actually the most fun year because I was playing my own position.” Kelly was a setter for Long Reach her first three years, but this season she has been the libero for the team.

Not only is the actual game of volleyball a different experience from club, but so are the bonds she creates with her teammates. Kelly explains, “With the people I do play for in high school, I see them everyday and I have unique bonds with people I might not have met if it wasn’t for volleyball.”

Sophomore Rayna Livingston, one of Kelly’s teammates, will miss her dedication to volleyball the most next year. “She gives everything she has in each move and brings so much passion onto the court. Grace truly loves volleyball and makes the most out of every play.”

Assistant Coach Erik Groch will miss “her enthusiasm for volleyball the most, but the team will probably miss her serving and passing.”

Groch says she brings experience, passion, and effort to the team. “She is one of the players that I have met [who] cares the most about volleyball, and it’s very impressive.” He added, “She also brings a lot of effort during games, as you can tell when she rolls all over the court every other point.”

Being a captain, Groch states Kelly sets a “good standard for the rest of her teammates,” and he hopes the other girls will notice what quality and enthusiastic volleyball looks like by watching Kelly and trying to emulate it.

Kelly will move on to play for a Division III school. Her Long Reach teammates will miss her next year but wish her the best in her volleyball career.