Having recently lost nearly half of his squad to graduation, Sacramento State head volleyball coach Ruben Volta has a number of openings he has been trying to fill prior to the start of the fall season. Luckily for him, he may have found one big piece to that puzzle in signing Fairview alum Kendall LaVine in April.
LaVine, who spent the past year redshirting at the University of West Virginia, was in search of a new home and sent out a release to various schools in order to determine possible transfer destinations. After receiving interest from the Big Sky Conference school and taking an official visit there, the middle blocker knew she had found the spot to continue her collegiate career.
“I really enjoyed my year at West Virginia because it was such a great learning experience,” LaVine said. “I’m really happy that I went because I learned so much about myself in getting outside of the ‘Boulder bubble’ I guess.
“It’s a really great opportunity at Sacramento State because I have four more years of eligibility and they have a really good kinesiology program which is what I’m interested in. They also just got a beach volleyball program. So I’ll be playing indoor volleyball in the fall and beach in the spring, which will be very cool.”
Having never had played the sport until high school, the 6-3 LaVine transformed herself from a raw talent into one of the school’s stars over her four years at FHS. Having played on the freshmen ‘B team’ her first year, LaVine’s skills improved rapidly and she was starting on the varsity by the time she was a junior. As a senior she was named team captain and MVP, leading her team in blocks and ranking third in kills.
“I think she was a one-of-a-kind athlete when she came in and said she had never played before,” Fairview head volleyball coach Brooke Simmons said. “Her improvement was just incredible and she was very fun to work with on the physical side of the game, the mental side of the game.”
While LaVine looked forward to continuing to develop in Morgantown, her growth was somewhat stunted by an early-season ankle injury which took her a lengthy amount of time to recover from. And after the decision was made to redshirt, she was forced to watch as her teammates struggled to a 8-22 record.
That’s not to say the year was a total loss for the freshman. Having been exposed to big-time Division-I volleyball was eye-opening for LaVine, and she feels that the time spent at WVU can only serve to help her in the transition to her new school.
“I think that even though I redshirted this past year, I got a lot of experience watching the Big 12 and playing with all my teammates there,” she said. “So I’m really excited to bring what I learned from West Virginia and apply it in the real games.”
The move to Sacramento State, which just adopted sand volleyball in 2012, also means that LaVine will become a two-sport athlete. The prospect of being able to play on the sand was one of the aspects that drove her decision to transfer there. And the Hornets should certainly be able to find room for a lengthy body at the net on either surface. Finishing the fall with a 12-18 record indoors, CSUS went 2-6 in its first season in the sand.
After setting off for a two-week trip through Europe this week, LaVine plans to return to Boulder and continue training throughout the remainder of the summer. She then plans to head to Sacramento at the beginning of August to get started on her classes and become acclimated to “California life.”
“We had a pretty big graduating class so there are certainly going to be some areas to compete right away to get on the floor,” Volta said. “And I think a year of Division-I training is going to help her. I think she’s going to be a really good fit.”Added Simmons: “She’s a tall player, she’s athletic, she moves well on the net for a middle blocker. She’s got a quick arm swing and her arm swing has improved quite a bit over the last several years. And those qualities will really serve her well at Sacramento State.”