Impacting the next level
After making an impact at the high school level, former Woodlake Tiger Kelsey Ruehling has made an even bigger impacted at the college level. Ruehling, who is attending Guilford College in Greensboro N.C., wanted to become a big part of the Quakers volleyball team this season. Little did she know she would play in every one of the Quakers 27 matches.
“I had looked at the returners stats and somewhat analyzed who would be competition for my position,” said Ruehling. “I came here because I wanted to play not sit the bench.”
At Woodlake, Ruehling played middle blocker and was named most valuable player in the East Sequoia League in 2011, but at Guilford her coach had moved her to outside hitter.
In her first game as a Quaker, Ruehling recorded 7 kills in a loss to William Peace in a tournament at Averett College.
“I remember being pretty scared and just slightly confused about everything,” said Ruehling. “I think it was just first game jitters.”
Ruehling and the Quakers would bounce back quickly. The next day at the Averett tournament the Quakers would pick up the win with Ruehling having her best game of the season. She would record 16 kills and 19 digs for her first double double of her young college career.
“We came back from a 2 game deficit to win, but I remember just feeling the desire in myself and my teammates to win,” commented Ruehling.
In her first season at the college level, Ruehling led the Quakers with 233 kills, 2.51 kills per set and 264 points. She would also have five matches were she had double doubles in digs and kills. This is very impressive considering she was a walk on and wasn’t sure she would be getting any playing time.
In the middle of her season during her “freshmen slump” Ruehling came to realize just how much different the game is in college compared to high school.
“In high school and even during the preseason here I really relied on my athletic ability to be successful and I found out that in college it isn’t possible to be successful on pure athleticism,” said Ruehling. “The players at the college level are smarter, they may not look a lot different than the girls I played with or against in high school but they have a different mindset.”
For Ruehling one of her toughest challenges was the mental game. She said there were moments where she really doubted her ability to play volleyball at this level. Looking back now and realizing how hard she was on herself just because she had become so accustomed to the success she had during her time playing for Woodlake, she just assumed it would come easy to her at Guilford.
“I worked with my setter on quicker sets to avoid big blocks, but mostly my challenge this season has been reading the blockers and watching where they are and where they are not which helps me determine where I can hit,” said Ruehling.
Next season looks promising for the Quakers. With the Quakers only losing one senior, they have a solid team coming back. Ruehling’s coach is currently on the recruiting path and is recruiting for all positions.
“That makes me nervous but I am excited for the challenge and the idea of new member on the team,” said Ruehling.
Even though she had such a busy schedule with school and volleyball, Ruehling still made time to follow her Tigers. During the Valley Championship game against Kingsburg, Ruehling was glued to her computer in North Carolina watching the game as it was being lived streamed by play on sports.
“I was cheering all the way over here in North Carolina. I am so proud of the way those girls have played and come together as a team. I was a little worried considering how many seniors we lost last year but I knew they had some really strong returners and some great sophomores joining the team who were ready to rise to the occasion,” said Ruehling.
Ruehling would go on to say while following her former team it made her miss her family and her friends. With Ruehling never spending more than 2 weeks away from her parents she did not know how she would handle the homesickness. She would say what really helped her get over the homesickness was the ability to stay in touch with her parents. A day would not go by without talking with her mom either through text messages, phone calls, Skype or even good old snail mail.
She has not been home since August and is ready to get back home to be back in the community she knows and loves and be able to go hang out with people that know her.
Looking back on her season and her first semester in college, Ruehling is satisfied with how she ended her first season and is ready to pick up next season just where she left off, but for now the countdown is on.
“Since I have not been home since August I am feeling ready to be back home,” said Ruehling. “There is 8 more days until I touch down on California soil.”