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- Column: Pay attention to women’s ice hockey
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Quinnipiac volleyball seniors leave their mark
For seniors Kayla Lawler and Kelby Carey it’s going to be tough to put aside their Quinnipiac volleyball uniforms and never step on the court again, especially considering how often they’ve been on it.
Lawler and Carey played their last game at Burt Kahn Court Sunday and have only two road matches left in their volleyball careers. The seniors have played in every match since arriving in Hamden their freshman year.
“It’s sad,” Lawler said. “It’s nice to have all the fans and everybody here. Playing at home is always better than playing away.”
Lawler and Carey have played in all 121 matches for the Bobcats since 2008, which totals out to 428 sets (as of Nov. 9). Lawler has played in every one of them, while Carey has only missed five sets.
“They’ve been on the court almost all the time,” Quinnipiac head coach Robin Lamott Sparks said.
With the exception of leaving late in the third set of Quinnipiac’s match against Virginia Commonwealth Sept. 3, Sparks believes Lawler has played in every point in every game.
“She only missed a few points. She got a bloody nose in Maryland so she had to come out of a game,” Sparks said. “Other than that, she hasn’t been out of the game the whole time. She’s just tough. There’s nobody tougher out there. She’s got a great work ethic. I think she’s really helped set that tone for us.”
Lawler and Carey were Sparks’s first two recruits as volleyball head coach. Lawler remembers what Sparks said to her when she first arrived.
“When coach recruited us, she said she really wanted us to help create a legend and a new tradition and bring more to the program,” Lawler said. “I think we definitely had that in mind and we were trying to push everybody every day and be good role models.”
Sparks said the duo has played an essential part in getting the team to compete against other higher echelon teams.
“They really helped set a standard for where our program is now, the level we’re playing,” Sparks said. “The speed is so different from when they came in. What they’ve been able to do to help elevate our program … I’m really proud of both of them.”
Before Lawler came in, the team didn’t have a setter. Lawler has notched the program record for assists with 3,394, and recorded 992 assists her junior year, the most assists in a season since the university became a Division I school.
“I think she’s set a great standard for the setters in the future,” Sparks said. “She broke the record pretty early on. She’s going to keep breaking (the career) record for the next two matches.”
“She’s had great hitters,” Carey said with a laugh, and Lawler will attest to that.
“Yeah, I have,” Lawler said. “With the help of my team, definitely, backing me up. I just try to do my job.”
According to Sparks, Lawler also ranks high on the list with 153 career service aces. Her 52 service aces in 2010 are the most for any Quinnipiac player in a single season.
“She might have the ace record for the program, as well,” Sparks said. “She’s really set a standard for where we wanted the program to go, and she works really hard.”
Carey also has 944 career kills and is two digs away from 1,000, a number she’s been counting down to since mid-October.
“I look back and I’m like, ‘Wow, that’s a lot,’” Carey said. “It’s a great feeling knowing that we’ve set the standard and tone here, so it’s great.”
The team’s starters throw a small plush volleyball into the crowd as they are announced at every home game. On Senior Day, instead of throwing the ball to someone in the crowd, Lawler gave the ball to Sparks, hugged her and thanked her for being there throughout her tenure.
“When I have to say bye to them finally,” Sparks said, “I’m going to bawl.”