It’s not hard for Kendall Stoll to stand out.
She is the tallest player on the St. Clair County Community College volleyball team, coming in at 6-foot-2. She also packs a power packed skill-set that has helped the Skippers take the next step in their progression as a program.
After being part of a lackluster 2014 team that finished 16-18, Stoll is helping pace the Skippers this season.
“She has been a solid all-around player,” SC4 first-year coach Kristen Michaelis said. “She has been our go-to person in most matches. She has stepped up her game, getting kills when we need it. She is a leader and a presence on the floor. She is helping a lot in our wins.”
SC4 was 21-2 entering Sunday and have been the class of the Michigan Community College Athletic Association Eastern Conference (3-0) behind Stoll’s contributions.
The Anchor Bay High School graduate hasn’t had to travel far from home to make a big difference on the college level. In her first season with SC4, she was one of the bright spots in an otherwise disappointing season.
This year she has taken yet another step forward in her sophomore campaign. But she isn’t taking credit for the Skippers fast start.
“I think the main differences between this year and last year is definitely the coaching that we have and the fact that most of us have played together for a year now,” Stoll said. “We learn so much more in practice this year and are able to grow and become better players every time we step into the gym this year with our amazing coaching staff. Most of us were able to play with each other last year so we also have that to our advantage this year.
“All of our coaches contribute each and every practice this year and help to make us a better team. Kristen is able to play with us during practices and it helps a lot having someone with her court awareness and abilities on the other side of the net when we’re scrimmaging in practice. (Assistant coach) Paul (Levandowski) always pushes us to work our hardest in practice and really motivates us to always do the best we can. (Assistant coach) Dan (O’Barsky) and (assistant coach) Ray (Cornwell) played together and were national champs so it nice to be able to look at people who have been there and done what we are striving to accomplish this year.
What the Skippers are striving to accomplish is a national championship, which would have seemed unheard of entering the year. But SC4 started the season winning its first 15 games and is now ranked No. 14 overall in the country.
“We have so many natural leaders on the team this year that we all just have each others backs on and off the court,” Stoll said. “Our leadership is definitely a team effort and I think that’s what makes a team great and has helped us a ton in our successes this year. We are a very sophomore strong team this year, since we only have three freshmen.
“I think I’ve helped to get the new players up to speed by just pushing myself as hard as I can in practice and the same goes for everyone else too. Our practices are much more intense this year and I think playing with that intensity helped our freshman to get up to the game speed quickly. If a ball drops in practice without someone going for it we all go to the end line to run without the coaches even saying anything because we know what it’s going to take to be a successful team this year since most of us have been through it.”
Stoll’s leadership role has come with additional pressure, but she isn’t shying away from the increased expectations.
“Being put in this role, there is a lot of pressure but everyone on the team is very supportive,” Stoll said. “I feel very honored to be considered that player on a team with so many amazing girls. Before every game, Ray tells me to just go out there and play my game and that’s what I try to do.
“If I make a mistake I know that my teammates will be there for me. I just always try to stay aggressive and keep the mindset that no matter where I am on the court I want the ball to come to me.”
With Stoll leading the way, the Skippers are quickly rising on the national scene and that will only help Stoll in the long run. She hopes to continue her volleyball career after her sophomore year with SC4. Eventually she said she would like to have a career in communications or broadcasting.
“We keep pushing her in practice and coaching her and expecting her to have big games,” coach Michaelis said. “We want to help her wherever she wants to go and I know she wants to go to a four year college.
“Just because you are the best player on your team doesn’t mean you will be able to go somewhere. But one of her goals is to go on and we are pushing her to help her get there.”
For her part, Stoll is not adverse to putting in the hard work necessary to make it to a four-year school.
“My goals for the rest of the season is to continue to win and to play my best every time I step onto the court,” Stoll said. “I want our team to be the team that people are nervous to play and I want us to continue to improve all season long so that we are playing our best game at the end of October and early November.
“Playing at SC4 the past two years has helped me to improve my game a ton. Being able to play in games for the past two years has helped me a ton with my court awareness and how I play. It’s made me realize that it’s not always how hard you can hit the ball but also how well you can place the ball. The coaching staff and the girls I play with have definitely made me a better player and I can’t thank them all enough.”
Contact Joseph Hayes at (810) 989-6268 or at email@example.com. Follow him on twitter @jhayes1136.