Plenty of bounce in her step
Published 12:00 am Thursday, September 15, 2022
Kennedy Weber thrives as an outside hitter for the West Forsyth volleyball team
By Jay Spivey
For the Clemmons Courier
It would be safe to say that volleyball is an integral part of senior Kennedy Weber’s life.
Weber, a 5-foot-7 outside hitter for the Titans, is heading toward the home stretch of her senior season.
“It’s exhilarating,” she said. “You can get lost in playing and you don’t have to think about anything else. I don’t even know how to describe it. It’s just great.”
In a way, a volleyball court is Weber’s sanctuary.
“If I have a bad day or something I know I always look forward to volleyball practice because you can just forget about everything and just play volleyball,” she said.
Weber’s coach at West Forsyth, Lauren Gillon, has seen up close and personal just how much volleyball means to Weber.
Gillon also coached Weber’s sister, Jacque, who graduated from West Forsyth in 2020 when Kennedy played on the JV volleyball team as a freshman.
“It feels like I’ve been with that family for so long,” Gillon said. “For me, it feels like Kennedy has always been there, which is a cool relationship to have with her because I had a great relationship with her sister and have a great relationship with her family. They’re super-supportive.”
As a sophomore, Weber’s first season on the varsity team for the Titans in 2020, there was some uncertainty about whether there would be a season because of COVID-19. Those fears were allayed.
“It was hard waiting for it to start happening,” Weber said. “All I really wanted to do was play volleyball. Because that’s what I do.”
In addition to Weber enjoying playing volleyball, she has been voted a co-captain along with senior Aaralyn Russell, a 5-5 setter. Weber and Russell are two of five seniors for the Titans.
“I think Kennedy has natural leadership qualities,” Gillon said. “And that was one of the reasons she was on the varsity team as a sophomore. And that was that COVID season, our senior setter at the time, hurt her knee and was done for the season, really early on in the season. And we hadn’t trained another setter.”
Although there was no true setter on the team after the injury, Gillon knew who to call on for help.
“I had looked down the bench and what I knew about Kennedy was her personality.” Gillon said. “She’s got grit. She’s a natural leader. She’s athletic.
“And so, I threw her into varsity games to set and she had no setting experience. She had not practiced setting at all. We were playing East Forsyth, but I think that feeling that I had looking down the bench. She’s the first kid that comes to my mind that would do anything and would give it a 110 percent and was physically capable. To me, that just like epitomizes who she is. And she’s continued to be that person.”
Fast-forward that status to now, with Weber fully entrenched in her role as co-captain for the Titans, who, as of Monday, are 8-3 overall and 2-1 in the Central Piedmont 4-A.
“Even though there are two captains, there are five seniors on varsity, and I think the five seniors work together,” Weber said.
Even in her junior season when the Titans finished 21-7 overall and 12-2 in the conference, she was a de facto captain.
“Even last year when Kennedy wasn’t a captain, she still brought leadership qualities to the court,” Gillon said. “And I just think that’s something that’s she’s always been able to do because that’s just who she is.”
Weber’s leadership was tested early in the season. After West won its first two matches, it lost two of the next three to Southern Alamance and Western Guilford.
After the loss to Western Guilford on Aug. 20, West Forsyth rattled off five straight wins, all in straight sets. That changed last Thursday after West Forsyth lost to Reagan (9-0) after being swept 25-13, 25-15, 25-14.
“We felt pretty good,” Weber said. “Even though we did lose to Reagan I still feel pretty good and getting ready to play them again at home.”
Despite the loss to Reagan, West Forsyth came back to practice last Friday ready for this week.
“It wasn’t a secret that Reagan is a very talented team,” Gillon said. “And I don’t think they graduated many players at all. So, they’re a team that’s been playing together now for a year and a half or two years, kind of like a well-oiled machine. And we wanted it. We want to compete, but that emotional aspect of the game and just the intensity of it all, I think handicapped us a little bit.”
West Forsyth has three scheduled matches this week, all at home. The Titans will square off on Tuesday against Davie County, on Wednesday against Parkland, and on Thursday against Reynolds.
“Every day is a new day,” Weber said.
“I always think about, even if you mess up you’ve got to think about the next play. You can’t dwell on the past or else that’s not going to make you play to your potential.”
No matter how the season finishes for the Titans, Weber’s volleyball career at West is winding down.
“It’s sad, but I’m going to look forward to new beginnings, and hopefully playing in college,” she said.
She said she is being recruited to play at NCAA Division II Erskine and Division III Pfeiffer and Brevard.
“I think she has so much potential,” Gillon said. “Like I said, she’s only 5-7. But I’ve had multiple college coaches be very impressed with her athleticism and her grit, and the intensity with which she plays.”
Seeing players leave to graduation, especially the ones who put their heart and soul into a program, never gets easy for a coach.
“Unless you’re the state champions it’s going to end in a loss somewhere,” Gillon said. “So, the goal for me is for them to still leave the program with a really positive memory — what they gained, what they contributed to the program, what they contributed to the group.
“I feel like the relationships that I have with the ones that have graduated, so many of them, I still talk to.”
Of those three colleges recruiting Weber, she said that right now she prefers to go to Pfeiffer.
“I want to be far way enough from home, but not too far away,” Weber said.