That is the No. 1 factor that led St. Paul senior volleyball player Kaeleigh Stang to sign with Division I Kent State University to continue her volleyball and academic career. Stang signed her National Letter of Intent on Monday morning at St. Paul High School in front of her family, coaches and teammates. Every player from St. Paul’s 2016 regional runner up team was on hand to see their teammate put pen to paper.
“It is a tribute to Kaeleigh’s hard work that she has put in over her four years,” St. Paul coach Nancy Miller said. “She has been a great cornerstone to our defense in her time here. She is just an incredibly hard worker and the backbone of our defense for years.”
Stang is second all-time at St. Paul in career digs with 2,100 and third in service points with 818, 165 of those being aces. She broke the single-season school record for digs as a junior with 661 and has been a 4-year starter under Miller.
Now, Stang starts a new chapter as a Division I college volleyball player.
“It was a ton of hard work,” Stang said. “Not just from me, but from the whole team. We would get up at 7 a.m. all summer long to lift weights and spent four hours in the gym all summer. I t may not have been what everyone wanted to be doing, but everyone was there putting the work in. My parents and coaches have pushed me and they have made me into who I am.”
As a member of the St. Paul Flyers volleyball team, Stang owns a career record of 86-17 with three district runner-up trophies, a regional runner-up trophy and two Firelands Conference championships. She was second team All-Ohio as a sophomore, junior and senior, first-team All-District 6 in those three years and first team All-Firelands Conference in those three years as well. She earned honorable mention All-Firelands Conference as a freshman.
Miller admits with those accolades, Stang will fit right in at KSU.
“She is extremely level-headed and I think it was the program, girls and the coach along with their work ethic and mentality that she thought she fit well with her beliefs,” Miller said.
Stang has also earned Academic All-FC as a freshman, sophomore and junior with all A’s. She is excited to continue her athletic and academic career with Kent.
“I wanted to make sure I was sort of close to home,” Stang said. “Kent has the perfect location and they have a very competitive volleyball team as well. I just felt really at home with the campus, coaches and girls.”
Stang has been the libero for the Flyers during her career and she hopes to continue to sport the different color jersey.
“The current libero will be a senior next year so I am looking forward to playing behind her and learning a lot in my first year,” Stang said. “That is the goal though.”
She knows it won’t come easy.
“It is going to take a lot of hard work but I want to go in and get myself a position to be in the rotation,” Stang said. “I expect the team to be very good. They won the MAC East last season so they are already very successful. The coaches know what they are doing and I am looking forward to the opportunity.”
And if you would have told her she would be a Division I college athlete when she started playing volleyball, she wouldn’t have believed you.
“I would have laughed and just said we are working for it,” Stang added. “It just feels nice with all of the time I have dedicated to the sport.”