They say “When a door closes, God opens a window.” After being verbally committed to go to a different college, Shelbyville Ram top killer Kyleigh Marty is joining former teammate Elizabeth Bowyer at Blackburn College.
Marty had verbally committed to play collegiate volleyball at MacMurray College. Then in the last few weeks (March 27), MacMurray pulled the plug and announced they would close their school for good at the end of the spring semester. That also closed the door on Marty’s plans.
However, a window was already opening. Former Ram teammate Elizabeth Bowyer, who just completed a standout freshman season at Blackburn College, spoke highly of the program to Marty.
Bowyer’s Blackburn coach Morgan Hauser played and coached at MacMurray and at Lincoln Land with former Shelbyville Ram setter Hollie Schultz.
Marty and current Ram setter Chloe Watson had just happened to play for Coach Hauser at a prior exposure event at Lincoln Land. That opportunity was provided before Marty knew she would need to suddenly find a spot this spring.
It also just so happened, with MacMurray players scrambling to find a place to play, as well as high school seniors glutting the area college volleyball market, Blackburn was starting a JV team next year. That would provide more possibilities for players wanting to play collegiate volleyball. The window for Marty was now fully open.
Marty signed her letter to play at Blackburn on Monday, April 20, less than a month after the MacMurray decision to close.
Marty had a lot of options as far as college teams to choose from. Even though it was a bit of a tailspin ending up at Blackburn, she is more than O.K. with how it worked out.
“I love it,” Marty said. “They have a great program. I like the atmosphere and great academics. Blackburn was a close second choice to MacMurray anyway.”
And a reunion with Elizabeth Bowyer?
“That was part of it,” Marty said. “I like whole team. She told me it was a good college and I would enjoy it.”
Windsor/Stew-Stras hitter Kasey Bean will be a junior next year and Marty also knew her from Shelby Area competition.
“I like the coach,” Marty said. “She’s nice and easy to talk to. She played in college and her emphasis is our grades. She said I would be good for the right side or the outside and I have a good swing.”
Senior Kyleigh Marty (Fall 2019) was Shelbyville’s top hitter (statistically) over the last 9 years. Marty was a Unanimous CIC All-Conference pick with 345 kills out of an inordinate 920 attempts. The last Ram hitter to score more kills than Marty was Shannon Boone (2010). Boone hit 397 kills. Boone was also an outside hitter.
Marty had a career 552 kills on 1522 attempts with a 31.0% kill percentage (37.5% senior) at Shelbyville.
Marty’s success in volleyball is even more amazing, given that she didn’t start playing until 7th grade. Even then, she was reluctant to go out.
“My sister (Savannah) played volleyball,” Kyleigh said. “I didn’t want to. I didn’t think I would be any good at it. My sister kinda forced me to play and I fell in love with it. I love the excitement of competition and getting a good dig or a good kill. The best is hitting a ball straight to the floor.”
At the beginning of her senior season, with a new coach and several players that had graduated, no one knew what the Ram season would be like. Marty was coming back as the 3rd hitter from 2018 and a possible heir apparent as top hitter.
Junior Kynlee Summers went from 16 kills to 169 kills. Junior Madi Cisna went from 1 kill to 138 kills. As the team’s Most Valuable Player, Marty went from 196 kills as a junior to 345 kills as a senior, again, the most kills in almost a decade.
“Kyleigh was a big reason that we had over 20 wins and won the regional championship,” said Ram coach Jamie Watson. “When she was on, she was on. The team depended on her a lot.”
Kyleigh didn’t mind being depended on.
“It was nice to have the pressure on me,” Marty said. “I’m a shy person and it made me better.”
“She was definitely the “go-to,” said Former Ram and current Rapid Fire Coach and Founder Lisa Peifer. “Her attempts were way above the others. They used her everywhere and it was important for her to be on the court.”
Marty played outside hitter, but was effective all around the court.
“She can swing from any position on the floor,” Watson said. “When she was on passing, we used her in the back row to swing. That helped us in a lot in situations. She had a tendency to go cross court, depending on the set she got, but was successful down the line. She could put powerful shots down and she was consistent.”
Even though Marty can hit from anywhere on the court, she prefers outside.
“I like the height and the approach outside,” Marty said. “I have more time to get into the set and see it better. You have to make the decision where to hit it as you are going up.”
Marty and Boone were the tallest outsides the Rams have had over the last decade.
“She’s got good size and one of the tallest outsides we’ve had, next to Shannon Boone,” said Coach Peifer. “She has a great build for volleyball. She is a high jumper to the block and to swing against the block.”
Peifer talked about her desire to develop as a player.
“She worked hard in club and in the summer to be able to create shots, cross shots and down the line,.” Peifer said. “Kyleigh worked at being smart on the floor with her shots.”
Peifer also discussed Marty going to the next level.
“She is just starting to understand how good she could be,” Peifer said. ‘She is not close to her limit yet. She will not have to be the ‘go-to’ in college and that will help her.”
A reunion with Bowyer might be special.
“Kyleigh is more quiet, but they both can talk to anybody,” Coach Watson said. “They will work together very well. Kyleigh seems to rise to the occasion, so she will do well.”
“Elizabeth is a good leader and a role model,” Peifer said. “Liz likes Morgan (Coach Hauser). She has the program going in the right direction. Kyleigh will be a good fit.”
Marty appreciates the experiences she had playing for the Rams
“I loved the girls,” Marty said. “It was fun playing with them. I have good memories. I want to thank my friends and my family for their support and all my coaches, Lisa (Peifer), Brittany (Tavener), Jamie (Watson) and Ronda (Schlechte).”
SP 88, K 345, K/S 3.9, Kill% 37.5, Att 920, E 138, Hit% .225, Ace 32, A% 10.8, SAtt 297, SE 25, Serv% 91.6, Pts 152, B 18, D 181, DE 87, D/S 2.1, Asst 7, BHA 28, Rec 207, RE 48, R/S 2.4
SP 84, K 196, K/S 2.3, Kill% 35.9, Att 546, E 72, Hit% .227, Ace 0, SAtt 26, SE 3, Serv% 88.5, Pts 26, B 20, D 70, DE 49, D/S 0.8, Asst 0, BHA 20, Rec 146, RE 22, R/S 1.7
SP 25, K 11, K/S 0.4,, Kill% 19.6, Att 56, E 10, Hit% 0.18, SAtt 3, Serv% 100%, Pts 3, B 3, D 8, DE 1, D/S 0.3