Kendall Knop discovered early on that a volleyball net could be a magic carpet to help carry her into the future.

Her decade long journey from Stewardson Trinity Grade School, to the IHSA State Tourney, to Junior College National Tourney, to the Blackburn College record book, then Blackburn coaching staff, a Blackburn degree, and a teaching career, was aided by a vehicle called volleyball, a sort of magic carpet ride.

Knop discovered she was among the best at every level of play. She won a SIJHSAA State Championship at Trinity Grade School. She earned IHSA 1A State Runner-up Honors at Stew-Stras High School.

Her freshman and sophomore seasons in college (2015, 2016), Knop was a back-to-back NJCAA National Runner-up at Lincoln Land Community College.

Her junior season at Blackburn, she took the Beavers to their best season in 17 years. After her senior season and logging season and career records, she stayed on as an assistant collegiate coach at Blackburn.

Back in 7th grade at Stewardson Trinity Grade School, Knop was leading the Cardinals to victory with 5th grader Becca Schlechte (IU/PUI junior setter ‘19) dishing the assists and 3rd grader Megan Schlechte (Lewis U sophomore hitter ‘19) serving aces. The following year (Spring ‘11) Knop led Trinity to a State Championship at the SIJHSAA Tournament.

Knop (8th grader) had 30 points, 11 aces, 39 kills and 15 digs in 3 matches at State. Becca Schlechte, 6th grade setter, had 35 points, 78 assists, and 11 digs. Ronda Schlechte was the coach and 4th grader Megan Schlechte played off the bench.

The next year Coach Schlechte and Knop were both at Stew-Stras. They suffered through one losing season (15-22), then Knop led the Comets to a winning record (22-16), a regional title and a sectional semifinal appearance.

The following season, Coach Schlechte and Knop were State Runner-ups (28-13) with Becca Schlecte dishing assists.

Knop was named the Daily Union Fall Female Athlete of the Year in 2013 as the leader of her school’s most successful volleyball team in 18 years. Knop was the leading scorer in combined statistics.

Although just 5’6” tall, the outside hitter swung for 347 kills in 41 matches (8.46/match). Knop also led the defense with 348 digs (8.49/match), and leading with 77 aces.

After another Sectional Semifinal run as a senior, Knop rode the magic volleyball net carpet to Lincoln Land Community College.

In her first year at Lincoln Land, Knop played 45 of the 46 matches as one of the two freshmen liberos and as an outside hitter.

Knop was 3rd on the team in total digs (431) and led the team in digs in 10 of the 45 matches.

She had double-digit digs in 21 matches and 9 digs twice. She had a season-high 22 digs in two matches and 20 digs in another.

Knop had a season-high 10 kills in one match and 8 in another. She had a season-high 5 aces in a match and 4 aces, four times. She had a season-high 10 points in a match, had 8.5 points once and 8 points twice.

In the postseason, Knop was at her best. In six matches, she recorded 67 digs, averaging more than 10 digs per match. She also had 6 aces, 6 assists, 7 points and a kill.

At the National Championships, she had 53 digs in four matches, 17 against Johnson City. Knop had 11 digs and an ace in the National Championship match.

In her sophomore season (2016), finished with the 6th highest aces in school history for a single season (63). Knop served 17 more aces than last year.

Knop also led the team with 530 digs, 3.6 digs per game. Knop had a season-high 34 digs against Kirkwood in the National Championship Tourney. Knop scooped 99 more digs than her freshman year. She tallied 80 points in 2016.

Knop was an Academic All-American while at Lincoln Land and holds records in service aces and digs.

At Blackburn, Knop earned third team All-SLIAC Conference in 2017. She led them to their best season in 17 years. Knop led the Beavers in kills (242), digs (429) and serve aces (35).

Her 429 digs is the 3rd highest season total in school history. Knop averaged 4.71 digs per set which was the 4th highest total in the SLIAC this last season.

Knop had a season-high 45 digs v. MacMurray, 32 v. Spalding, 30 v. Eureka, 26 v. Principia, 25 v. Fontbonne and v. St. Louis Pharmacy. Knop had a season-high 19 kills v. Iowa Wesleyan and had 16 kills in the season-opener against Knox College. She had 12 matches with double-digit kills.

“Kendall is probably one of the best players we’ve seen on this campus in years, she has played high level volleyball in the past and it shows,” said Blackburn Coach Jim Hunstein.

Blackburn posted their first ever team victories over Iowa Wesleyan and Spalding Universities. They scored a total of 849 team kills, one short of the school record of 850 set in 2007. Their total of 1,580 digs is 3rd best in team history. Their 151 aces is 4th best in team history.

Their 704 assists is 5th best in team history. Their 87 total solo blocks is first in the SLIAC, based on overall records, 11 more than 2nd place Westminster and 26 more than 3rd place Spalding. In conference play, they had 50 solo blocks, the most of any team, 10 more than Spalding and Eureka tied, which for 2nd place.

She finished her 2-year career at 4-year Blackburn by making the record books. She holds 3rd place in single-season digs (429), 5th in single-season kills (242), 4th in career digs (875), and 5th in career aces (65).

Kendall Knop joined the Blackburn Volleyball coaching staff for the 2019 season. She will graduate this spring from Blackburn College and has already been hired to teach English at Cowden-Herrick High School next fall.

2017-18 Blackburn stats

M 27, S 91, K 242, K/S 2.66, E 103, TA 713, Pct .195, Ast 13, Ast/S 0.14, Ace 35, Ace/S 0.38, DG 429, D/S 4.71, BS 8, BA 13, T Blk 21, B/S 0.23, Pts 291.5 Pts/S 3.2

2018-19 Blackburn stats

M 25, S 96, K 184, K/S 1.92, E 87, TA 717, Pct .135, Ast 29, Ast/S 0.30, Ace 30, Ace/S 0.31, DG 388, D/S 4.04, BS 2, BA 5, T Blk 7, B/S 0.07, Pts 218.5, Pts/S 2.3

2-YR Total: M 52, S 187, K 426, K/S 2.28, E 190, TA 1430, Pct .165, Ast 42, Ast/S 0.22, Ace 65, Ace/S 0.35, DG 817, D/S 4.37, BS 10, BA 18, T Blk 28, B/S 0.15, Pts 510.0, Pts/S 2.7

2015-16 Lincoln Land Stats

M 45, DG 431, Ace 46, K 43, Pts 90

2016-17

Lincoln Land Stats

M 49, DG 530, Ace 63, K 17, Pts 80

2011-2014 Stew-Stras Prep Career Stats

State Runner-up 2013, Sectional Semi-Finalist, 2012, 2014

M 340, DG 1429, K 1045, Ast 198, Ace 234 aces, Blk 37

2011 Trinity SIJHSAA Championship SIJHSAA Class S State Tournament

Trininty def. Jasper-Geff Co-op, 25-16, 25-12, def. Trinity def. Ewing, 25-18, 25-7; Championship: Trinity def. Bartelso, 25-14, 12-25, 19-17

Trinity 3-match stats: Kendall Knop- 30 points, 11 aces, 39 kills, 2 assists, 15 digs

John Curtis can be reached at john.curtis@shelbyvilledailyunion.com

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