Senior setter valued for versatility on court

Ashley Sepanski

M.A.C. tournament play begins tonight

After working her way to fifth in all-time career assists at Kent State, senior setter Jenny Keck will finish up her final season with the volleyball team during Mid-American Conference play this week.

Kent State coach Glen Conley said the team will lose an important player when the season ends.

“It’s going to be sad to see Jen go,” Conley said. “She’s been somebody you can rely on, she’s one of the best blockers on the team, she’s one of the best blockers in the (MAC), so she’s just incredible.”

Keck, who began playing volleyball when she was 8 years old, said she was originally a middle hitter and transformed into a setter during high school.

“My freshman year, our JV team didn’t have a setter,” Keck said. “I knew volleyball, and I could kind of set, even though I wasn’t a setter, so they kind of stuck me there and turned me into a setter. Then, through high school I kind of went back and forth between middle and setter depending on what they needed.”

Even after joining the Flashes, Keck moved around the court. Conley said she did not need an official position.

“We actually played her as a little bit of a middle hitter last year, if you can believe it,” Conley said. “She’s always sort of been a setter-hitter, but she hasn’t always (set) exclusively.”

Keck said despite being the “delivery boy of volleyball,” she enjoys setting.

“I do like being a setter,” she said. “I think I’m a lot better at it than I am at hitting, so it just works out that way I guess. I’ve never been one of the power hitters; it’s just not something that I have.”

Currently, Keck has recorded 1,632 career assists and has been named Defensive and Offensive Player of the Week during conference play this season. She has also been nominated for the Academic All-American award for maintaining a high GPA.

“It’s kind of exciting, but I haven’t won anything yet,” Keck said. “For me it’s just like, my grades are important to me. I’m here for an education, and I’m going to work to get that as well as the volleyball stuff.

“(Also), it’s nice to get recognized sometimes and just have other people know, yeah, I’m actually doing my job on the court, and it means my hitters are doing well, and my passers are doing well because without them, I can’t do anything.”

Although the team does not want to lose the star player, Keck said the end of the season will be a bittersweet experience.

“It’s both sad and exciting,” Keck said. “I’m going to miss the whole competing thing, and that intensity and working out all the time. I’ll miss being with the girls 24 hours a day.

“But then, I also get the opportunity to be a real college student and to experience things that I had to give up because we were traveling or playing that weekend.”

The Flashes will begin MAC Tournament play against Buffalo at 7 p.m. today in the M.A.C. Center, which could potentially be Keck’s last game.

“It’s going to be hard to transition into a season and a team without her, but you know, that’s college athletics,” Conley said. “We’ve got to move on, and she’s got to move on, but I’m really incredibly blessed to have been able to coach her.”

Contact sports reporter Ashley Sepanski at [email protected]