One MAC ring worth more than 1,000 kills for Feutz

Josh Johnston

Senior outside hitter Ashley Feutz attempts a serve in a 3-0 victory over Buffalo last November. Daniel R. Doherty | Daily Kent Stater

Credit: DKS Editors

Ashley Feutz takes a couple big steps and leaps. Her arm swings smoothly around through the air. Her hand connects perfectly with the ball set to her by her teammate, junior Katie Veatch. A boom echoes around the mostly empty M.A.C. Center as the senior buries the ball into the opposite side of the court.

A perfect kill.

A kill in volleyball is a hard downward hit that is unreturnable. Into her fifth year of volleyball at Kent State, Feutz has picked up quite a few kills – 992, to be exact. But when asked how she felt about being only eight kills away from 1,000, Feutz was surprised.

“It’s a great honor to get that,” Feutz said after hearing the statistic, “but I’d much rather have the (Mid-American Conference) championship ring than 1,000 kills.”

It’s that kind of selfless attitude that makes Feutz a leader on the court, Kent State coach Glen Conley said.

“She doesn’t have a star mentality or feel entitled,” he said. “The great thing about it is if she is successful at (hitting), it’s a team win. If she’s unsuccessful at it, then it’s a team loss.”

Leadership is incredibly important on a volleyball team, Feutz said. Without leaders, it becomes six individuals on a side instead of a team.

“Our goal is to play as one team and not six individuals,” she said. “When we play like that, we lose – a lot.”

A starter for her fourth year, Feutz tallied 268 kills her freshman year and 285 kills her sophomore year. Last season, she stepped into a leadership role after recording 400 kills and a 3.48 kills per game average, which was second on the team. After last weekend’s matches at Colgate, Feutz holds a career 3 kills per game average, the fifth highest in school history.

Assistant coach Tarah Beyer, who has been with the team since Feutz’s freshman year, said the senior is just one of many leaders for the Flashes.

“You need that ‘on-court leader’ where Ashley is, where she’s setting the standards statistically. You need those other leaders that provide energy,” Beyer said. “Some people provide another skill that maybe Ashley doesn’t. It’s imperative; you have to have (leaders). I don’t think there’s any winning teams or good teams that don’t have a leader or four or five.”

Off the court, Beyer said Feutz is “never a dull moment.”

“She always keeps things exciting,” Beyer said. “She’s always in our offices: watching film, asking questions, things like that. She has a lot of energy.”

Feutz’s energy is obvious to anyone who meets her. Even after a three-hour practice, she bounces around the gym, collecting stray volleyballs and joking with teammates. Feutz said she uses her energy to lead during matches.

“On the court you’re angry and you’re focused,” she said. “If you can bring that on the court every time, your teammates see that, and everybody’s pushing for the same thing then.”

Feutz will likely get the eight kills she needs to reach the 1,000-kill milestone this weekend at Maine, Conley said. To have 1,000-plus kills in a career is very uncommon, he said.

“That’s why people normally put a ball in the trophy case with a thousand kills and put their name on it,” he said. “It’s a big deal. She’s worked really hard to earn it.”

Feutz said she would like to hit around 500 kills this season, which would have ranked third in the MAC in 2007. But honestly, Feutz is clueless about volleyball statistics.

“I don’t know what’s good or bad,” said Feutz with a laugh.

If she achieves her goal, she will be one of only three Kent State players to reach the 1,400-kill mark. But for Feutz, that doesn’t matter too much.

“It’s a good honor,” she said, “it’s an exciting thing, but it’s just stats, so all I care about is the win.”

Contact sports reporter Josh Johnston at [email protected].