Keating Claims Title as K-State Volleyball 'Boss'
One of just four returning seniors on the Wildcat roster heading into the 2014 season, Keating has found herself in a leadership role bigger than ever before.
"Chelsea has kind of become the boss," explained Fritz to the media surrounding her at the K-State volleyball media day earlier this week. "I call her the boss, and I don't even know if she knows I call her that...she's to that point as a fifth-year senior where she understands exactly what she's supposed to do and what everyone else is supposed to do. She's not one of those people that's in your face, but she's clearly in charge."
The K-State volleyball team boasts nine new players on its 2014 roster, including six true freshmen. With that many new faces, someone had to step up and take charge. Enter Keating.
"It's a new title. I haven't heard it before, but I like it," laughed Keating about her new nickname. "I enjoy being demanding on the court and setting those expectations. I kind of took it upon myself this year because we have a lot of young girls who don't necessarily know what the expectations are."
Each and every year on the court, Keating has continued to grow and get better. Over her K-State career, Keating has played in 59 matches and, last year as a junior, she had 165 kills with 66 digs, 43 blocks and eight aces in a career-high 77 sets (26 matches). A versatile player, Fritz said the coaching staff has been trying new things with Keating heading into her final year.
"We're messing around a little bit with her on the left; we're messing around with her a little bit on the right," said Fritz. "She's been playing tremendous and I think she has some opportunities to not just be an attacker and a blocker...she's developed as an all-around player and is playing all six rotations."
With her flexible yet hard-working attitude on the court, Keating will continue to lead by example during her final season as a Wildcat. However, her teammates have also noticed she's stepped up vocally this season.
"She has grown a lot as a vocal leader," explained sophomore setter Katie Brand. "She definitely has taken the lead of the one that brings down the hammer when things aren't going as well as they should be going or when we're not handling things correctly. This team doesn't have a problem with working hard, but if she does need to put someone in line, she does it and we rely on her for that. That's a huge role to fill. She does great with it."
But she didn't learn it on her own. Keating said in her younger years with K-State she spent time studying the game of former teammate Kathleen Ludwig (2009-12), who had more than 900 kills, 800 digs and 300 blocks as a Wildcat. For three years, Keating had the opportunity to follow Ludwig's lead and learn a thing or two about leadership.
"There are a lot of girls who (helped me) along the way, but who is the most influential? I'll probably have to say Kathleen Ludwig," explained Keating. "She played my position and I was behind her [for three years]. She helped me a lot and she was very energetic. She was someone who gave a lot to the team. I think she led very well."
As her final season approaches, Keating reflects back on her Wildcat career often. She said the friendships she has made playing volleyball at K-State are friendships she cherishes and that will last a lifetime.
Keating knows that in order to reach her goal of "winning a lot" this year, it's going to take a team effort, but happily for her, she steps onto the court alongside a group of hard-working competitors who she's lucky enough to call her closest friends.
"The whole family aspect is obviously very true here at K-State. It's said everywhere, but the student-athletes really believe it," concluded Keating. "This year, I try not to see it as my team because I think that's been a fault in our past; how it's been the seniors' year. I try not to look at it like that, but since I am kind of leading, I want to have a big influence on this team.
"I think about what people and upperclassmen have done in the past, what I've liked about their leadership and what I haven't liked about it. I'm trying to use that going into this year."