When asked to describe outside hitter Kelsie Groot in one word, coach Jose Gandara responded with “worker.” Groot’s teammate and good friend Kalysta White said “hilarious.”
Evidence supports these two descriptions. During high school, Groot says she had practiced and played volleyball four times each week. She was voted the team’s most valuable player during her sophomore, junior and senior years at Northwood High School in Irvine, California, and the first thing teammate Haley Templeton said about setting for Groot was, “Kelsie is fun to play with.”
Groot has already proven she is a player to watch this season. The redshirt junior recorded 19 kills in the final match versus Kansas State at the Hurricane Invitational, which the Canes swept on Aug. 29. Along with demonstrating her offensive skills, Groot showed that she is also a valuable defensive player, finishing the game third on the team in digs.
“Kelsie is an all-around player,” Gandara said. “She can play outside and opposite. She is a good passer and server, and she can defend at the net.”
Not only are Groot’s skills essential to the success of the team, she also brings a positive attitude to the court that spreads to her fellow Canes. Templeton, White and Gandara all describe Groot as a great teammate.
“She’s always excited for everybody else when they do something well,” White said. “I just really love having her on the court next to me.”
Groot’s contagious energy on the court is something all her teammates recognize. It’s no surprise that Groot’s favorite volleyball player is Olympian Kerri Walsh Jennings, a three-time gold medalist for the U.S. who competes with an endless supply of energy.
While Groot says she would love to play volleyball after college, she has other ambitions as well.
The California native is a physical therapy major with an interest in working with elderly rehabilitation facilities after her volleyball career.
For now, Groot is focused on her performance this season. “I want to play with confidence, especially with my hitting,” she said. “Even if there is a huge block in front of me, I want to take big swings as if no one is there.”
If the Hurricane Invitational is any indication, Groot and the team have a fantastic season ahead of them.
The Canes (3-3) play Purdue next in the LSU Tournament 6 p.m. on Saturday in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.