Smith signs with Western
MENDON — Kaley Smith attended her first Western Michigan University women’s volleyball match as a 12-year-old.
Smith, now a Mendon High School senior volleyball standout, took an instant liking to the program, especially former WMU libero Lena Oliver.
Over the next few years Smith attended several WMU camps and actually became good friends with Oliver and many of the Broncos coaching staff.
Eventually Smith got to know the current WMU coaching staff on a more personal level and decided Wednesday to sign a national letter of intent to play her collegiate volleyball at the Division I level for WMU.
Smith, a second-team Class D All-State selection last year as a junior for Mendon and a potential first-team choice in 2016, plans to major in nursing or sports psychology.
In addition to her varsity career at Mendon, Smith got a lot of exposure playing for her club team Dead Frog FarOut.
“The Western coaches came to some of my club matches and I got to know them on a personal level. They told me they really liked my leadership skills,” Smith said.
“I just like what I see when I walk into the gyms at Western. It’s a super competitive environment. Everyone plays for each other. That’s something I want to be involved with. It will help build me into the player I want to become.”
Smith would eventually like to play on a national team and one day try out for the US Olympic team.
Smith intends to work hard and contend for a spot in the Broncos’ lineup right away.
“Western’s libero this year was a freshman. Hopefully I can go in there and work hard enough to earn a spot,” Smith said.
Smith’s biggest memory playing high school volleyball at Mendon will be all the bus rides to the various matches and weekend tournaments.
“We would always start singing the song by the group Journey, ‘Don’t Stop Believing’ before we would get off the bus to play,” Smith said.
The school record holder with over 2,700 career assists, Smith will also remember all the emotional wins and losses and locker room pep talks the most.
“We really had a family-type bond this season,” said Smith, who played a major role for Mendon.
Smith helped Mendon to Class D district and regional titles and its third consecutive state quarterfinals appearance.
Mendon finished 42-9-6 after losing a four-set match on Tuesday in the Climax-Scotts quarterfinal to No. 1-ranked Plymouth Christian Academy.
During her junior season, Smith finished No. 2 in the nation by MaxPreps with 1,012 digs in a single season. She totaled over 900 digs this fall as a senior.
Scott Hassinger can be reached at 279-7488 ext. 25 or firstname.lastname@example.org.